In the recent events that unfolded earlier this week, a deeply concerning situation transpired in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein al-Hilweh, situated in southern Lebanon. Ten individuals lost their lives, and numerous others sustained injuries as a result of clashes that erupted between rival factions within the camp. This unsettling development has garnered significant attention, with apprehensions mounting about the potential escalation of violence in the region. In response to these fears, a senior Palestinian official is anticipated to arrive in Lebanon, hoping to address and mitigate the ongoing bloodshed.
The turbulence within Ein al-Hilweh has been ongoing for some time, with tensions flaring between the Fatah terrorist organization and Islamist militants since July. The initial bout of conflict resulted in the tragic loss of more than ten lives. Unfortunately, the situation took a turn for the worse when hostilities resumed over the weekend following a brief month-long ceasefire. Regrettably, this resurgence in violence has already claimed the lives of at least ten individuals, as reported by reliable Palestinian sources within the refugee camp. Of the casualties, six were affiliated with Fatah, while two belonged to other Islamist groups. According to Lebanese security sources, the remaining two victims were civilians, one of whom tragically lost their life to a stray bullet during the clashes, which inadvertently reached a nearby settlement adjacent to the refugee camp.
Ain al-Hilweh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, has been roiled once again by violent clashes. Several jihadist factions are engaged in urban gun battles with Fatah militants.— 301 Military (@301military) September 10, 2023
The renewed hostilities also raise concerns about the potential spillover of violence into the nearby city of Sidon, intensifying anxieties among Ein al-Hilweh residents. There are haunting echoes of a similar scenario that unfolded in 2007 in the Nahr Al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp located in the north of Lebanon. During that tumultuous period, the Lebanese army conducted a 15-week-long operation to eradicate Islamist factions, causing widespread instability and suffering.
It's important to emphasize that Ein al-Hilweh stands as the largest among the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, providing shelter to a staggering 80,000 of the 250,000 Palestinians residing in the country as a whole. The previous bout of intense fighting occurred approximately a month and a half ago. On July 30th, Lebanese security authorities reported that a brutal confrontation unfolded among rival Palestinian organizations, resulting in the tragic loss of six lives and injuries to seven more individuals, including two children.
🚨 Clashes erupt in Ain al-Hilweh, a Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon, reigniting tensions after deadly fighting weeks ago. 🇵🇸— Kasturi Chakraborty (@journokc) September 8, 2023
Fatah vs. rival groups in the camp; families flee as violence flares up.#LebanonConflict #PalestinianRefugees #UNRWA #MiddleEast pic.twitter.com/NtmwJXdW1b
During these hostilities, it came to light that armed organizations had taken control of eight UNRWA schools, compelling the agency to search for alternative facilities to accommodate students as the upcoming school year approached. This development further underscores the complexity and gravity of the situation, as it not only endangers lives but also disrupts essential educational services for the vulnerable refugee population.