A man walks past closed shops in Ain al-Helweh A man walks past closed shops in Ain al-Helweh  (AFP or licensors)

Death toll rises in clashes at Lebanon's Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp

Clashes between Palestinian factions in Ein el-Hilweh Refugee Camp intensify, while attempts to broker a ceasefire prove unsuccessful. The violence has caused casualties, forced school closures, and the governing committee urges for an end to the clashes.

By Agnel Maria

During the past three days, clashes in the Ein el-Hilweh camp in Lebanon resulted in the deaths of 11 people and left at least two children injured.

The camp, which houses around 80,000 Palestinian refugees, Syrians, Lebanese, and migrants, has been facing escalating violence, putting children at direct risk of physical and psychological harm, according to Save the Children.

The violence has disrupted daily life, forcing school closures, and causing some residents in nearby areas to flee their homes due to stray bullets hitting buildings and endangering lives.

The Organization has been providing aid to affected families, distributing shelter materials, fuel, and blankets to protect against the cold.

It supplied essential items like washing and cooking equipment and supported local authorities in implementing sanitation projects.

Attempts to quell violence

The clashes erupted between Palestinian factions, specifically members of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and Islamist groups, following the killing of a Palestinian military general and three escorts.

A Lebanese lawmaker announced a ceasefire agreement, but erratic gunfire continued breaking the truce. "The shooting and shelling in the camp have continued unabated despite efforts by Lebanese parties and certain Palestinian factions to mediate a ceasefire," said Adnan Rifai, a member of the popular committee governing the camp.

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Abbas both condemned the violence, and officials are actively seeking solutions to stabilize the situation inside the camp.

He told the Associated Press that officials are “making extraordinary efforts to find serious, effective, lasting and stable solutions to the situation inside the camp.”

A statement from Fatah condemned the killing of its security official, labelling it as part of a 'bloody scheme that targets the security and stability of our camps. It vowed to hold the “perpetrators accountable”.

In response to the violence, rival faction Hamas issued its own statement on Monday, denouncing the fighting and urging for dialogue to “spare the blood of our people and to preserve civil peace.”

Hamas has called for the formation of an investigative committee to determine the responsibility for the clashes.

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01 August 2023, 11:54