A huge explosion has rocked a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, causing an unspecified number of casualties, with Hamas saying Saturday that the blast occurred due to an electrical fault in a warehouse containing oxygen and gas cylinders for COVID-19 patients.
The incident occurred at the Burj Shamali camp in the port city of Tyre on Friday night, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported, adding that around 12 people sustained injuries.
It also reported an unspecified number of fatalities, but local media and civil defense workers on the scene said that there had been no deaths.
In a statement on Saturday, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said, “After examining the circumstances surrounding the accident and listening to eyewitnesses, it is revealed that the explosion was caused by a short circuit in a warehouse that includes oxygen cylinders for coronavirus patients and an amount of cleaning products, disinfectants, and preliminary material allocated to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The movement also thanked all medical organizations and ambulance and civil defense crew who have scrambled to extinguish the blaze.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants live mostly in the 12 refugee camps that are scattered around the small Mediterranean country.
Many of these Palestinians are or descendants of those who fled their homes in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied West Bank during the wars of 1948 and 1967 or were later forced to abandon their homes and lands.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds, all of which are illegal under international law.
The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its capital.