Life returns to normal after week of clashes in Lebanon’s Ain el-Hilweh camp

Published April 13th, 2017 - 03:00 GMT
Members of the joint Palestinian security force walk in Ain al-Hilweh camp, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, on April 12, 2017, after clashes that took place earlier in the week between an extremist group and the security force. (AFP/Stringer)
Members of the joint Palestinian security force walk in Ain al-Hilweh camp, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, on April 12, 2017, after clashes that took place earlier in the week between an extremist group and the security force. (AFP/Stringer)

Palestinian refugees Thursday moved back into the Al-Tiri neighborhood in the southern Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp after six days of clashes.

Large groups of displaced Palestinians returned to their homes in the Al-Tiri neighborhood, which is now under the control of the camp's joint factional security forces.

A source told The Daily Star that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Osbat al-Ansar are the primary factions in the neighborhood, with forces from Fatah protecting the main road leading into the neighborhood.

At least 15 stores and homes were burned to the ground due to the clashes.

Ahmad Abdel Ghani, a refugee returning to his home in Al-Tiri, did not bring his family with him. 

"I'm worried about undetonated explosives," he told The Daily Star, carrying bags of clothes.

Store-owner Ibrahim, whose display mannequins are filled with bullet-holes, told The Daily Star that they resembled combatants. 

"This is not the first, nor [will it be] the last time it will happen," Ibrahim said. "Who will compensate us?" 

He pointed at one of his mannequins and sarcastically said, "Ask him." 

Earlier Thursday, Lebanese Army commander Gen. Joseph Aoun inspected the military units deployed in the southern city of Sidon and the surrounding areas of Ain al-Hilweh. The Army chief toured the security centers and was briefed on the measures being taken to combat the violence.

“The security in the camp [Ain al-Hilweh], and in any other Lebanese areas is part of Lebanon’s security as a whole,” the Army Commander said.

Ain al-Hilweh witnessed intense clashes for nearly a week, after Fatah Movement fighters and members of the joint Palestinian security force faced off against a group led by Al-Qaeda-linked extremist Bilal Badr in the camp’s Al-Tiri neighborhood.

The fighting broke out after Badr objected to the deployment of the new joint Palestinian security force and instructed his supporters to open fire on the unit.

The clashes left at least 10 dead and some 50 wounded over six days, including numerous civilians.

By Mohammad Zaatari

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