A member of Fatah killed and others injured in the latest and fiercest clashes in the camp amid mutual accusations between the gunmen regarding the ceasefire violation.
The political bureau chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, called on Thursday Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, and Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah to make efforts to stop the ongoing clashes in Ain al-Hilweh camp in Sidon, South Lebanon, and restore the situation to what it was.
In separate statements, Hamas announced that Ismail Haniyeh had contacted the caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, where they discussed “the situation in Ain al-Hilweh camp, in light of the events currently taking place in the camp that led to the loss of lives of some of its residents and the injuries of dozens and causing fear among the peaceful.”
Haniyeh, according to the statements, wished Mikati and Berri to make more efforts to stabilize the ceasefire that was reached again last night and to restore the situation to what it was, affirming “the movement’s keenness on the security and stability of the camp and the neighborhood and that the camps remain symbols of return to Palestine and that Palestinian arms are directed only against the Zionist enemy.”
Haniyeh stressed the need to “respect the decisions taken by the Palestinian authorities, especially the Joint Palestinian Action Committee, and in full coordination with the relevant official Lebanese authorities, to avoid resorting to weapons, achieve a definitive cessation of hostilities, withdraw the gunmen from the streets, and give the investigation committee a chance to carry out its role in investigating the crimes in coordination with the relevant authorities in the state.”
Haniyeh addressed Nasrallah, pointing out the security tension in Ain al-Hilweh camp and urging him to make efforts to stop the ongoing clashes in the camp.
Haniyeh’s call comes after clashes erupted unexpectedly on Wednesday night/Thursday morning between Fatah and Islamist militants, using various types of light and medium weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and 60mm mortars.
The National News Agency reported that calm has returned to the camp after a night of the most violent clashes since the deterioration of the situation. The ceasefire agreement held throughout Wednesday.
The sounds of machine gun fire and the explosion of shells were heard until late in the morning on Thursday, and many of them hit the city of Sidon, especially around the Sidon Governmental Hospital, the Americans Roundabout, and the areas of Fawar and Villas.
A person affiliated with Fatah was killed, and others were injured in the clashes that erupted on multiple fronts inside the camp, especially in the Emergency Section, Barracks, the Under-Street Emergency, Bustan al-Quds, Hittin, and Tayari, according to the agency.
The conflicting parties exchanged accusations regarding who initiated the attacks, as a senior official in the Palestinian National Security Forces in the camps, General Abu Arab, stated that “Jund al-Sham elements tried to advance towards our positions, and we confronted them strongly.” In response, the spokesperson for the Islamic Ansar Brigades, Abu Sharif Akl, refuted Abu Arab’s accusations, accusing Fatah of launching an attack from the Barracks neighborhood on the Emergency area.
On Wednesday, clashes began in Ain al-Hilweh camp between elements from Fatah and Islamist groups, resulting in the death of more than 15 people, including the security official in Fatah, Mohammed al-Armoshi.
The clashes caused significant damage to properties and infrastructure inside the camp and displaced more than two thousand people, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which temporarily suspended its services due to the clashes.
Ain al-Hilweh camp, established in 1948, is the largest camp for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in terms of population, housing about 50,000 registered refugees according to the United Nations. Unofficial estimates put the camp’s population at over 70,000 on a limited area.
The total number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is approximately 200,000, distributed among 12 camps mostly under the influence of Palestinian factions.