The Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement has urged the cessation of hostilities and dialogue among rival Palestinian factions in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp after dozens were either killed or wounded and many others fled their homes.
The statement came on Monday after fighting broke out on Saturday between members of the Ramallah-based Fatah movement and rival fighters in the Ain al-Hilweh camp, near the southern port city of Sidon.
Following the violence, at least eleven people were killed. Local media reported that more than 40 people, including children, have been wounded in fierce clashes.
“Efforts were being made in cooperation with Palestinian forces and factions as well as Lebanese authorities to stop armed confrontations in the Ain al-Hilweh camp,” the statement said.
The movement renewed its rejection of armed clashes at the camp as a means of resolving problems and disputes, calling for genuine dialogue to preserve civil peace in camps across Lebanon.
It added that it is following up on the serious security deterioration at the camp, which has left many people dead, injured, shocked, and displaced.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a statement that one staff member had been injured as a result of armed violence in the camp.
UNRWA highlighted that two schools run by the UN agency had also sustained damage and more than 2,000 people were forced to flee in search of safety.
“In response to the urgent need for shelter, UNRWA, with volunteers opened its schools to accommodate displaced families and is providing basic humanitarian assistance. All UNRWA services in the camp have been temporarily suspended due to the violence.
“UNRWA urgently calls on all parties to immediately return to calm and take all measures necessary to protect civilians, including children. We urge all armed actors to respect all UNRWA premises and facilities in accordance with international law,” it added.
Palestinian sources say the latest round of fighting on Saturday was triggered by a security clampdown by Fatah. The death of a fighter led to attacks on Fatah outposts.
Fighting intensified on Sunday after the death of Fatah commander Ashraf al-Armouchi and four of his “comrades.”
On Monday, the warring groups fired rocket-propelled grenades at each other in the crowded alleys of the camp. The fighting wrecked a ceasefire agreed on Sunday between rival Palestinian groups.
The Lebanese army said in a statement that a mortar shell hit a military barracks outside the camp and wounded one soldier.
Ain al-Hilweh camp was established in 1948 to house Palestinians displaced by Israeli forces during Nakba Day or “Day of Catastrophe,” when the Tel Aviv regime was created at the expense of the forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland.
According to the UNRWA, more than 63,000 people live in the camp.
The thickly populated camp has seen violent infightings over decades.
In 2017, deadly clashes broke out between Palestinian factions and an armed group affiliated with the terrorist group Daesh, also known as ISIS. The fighting lasted for nearly a week. At least five people have been killed and 35 wounded.
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