ASIA/LEBANON - Precarious truce in the Ain Al Hilweh refugee camp after a night of violent clashes

Thursday, 3 August 2023 violence   armed groups   bishops  

Beirut (Fides News Agency) - At least 12 dead, 50 wounded, and 2,000 people forced to leave their homes. These are the - still temporary - figures of the clashes in the refugee camp in Ain Al Hilweh, on the outskirts of Sidon in southern Lebanon. The clashes that started on June 29 are between militiamen with Al Fatah, the primary Palestinian organization headed by the President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas, and those of two Islamic groups, Jund al Sham and Shabab al Muslim, one of which is accused of killing the Palestinian general Abu Ashraf al Armoushi on Sunday, July 30. The previous day an attack had been carried out against another Palestinian fighter, Mahmoud Khalil, who escaped death although one of his comrades perished.
This morning, August 3rd, the clashes seem to have ceased after a night of intense combat - the most violent since June 29 - with machine guns and rocket-launchers. A number of stray bullets struck a hospital in the nearby city of Sidon.
Yesterday, August 2nd, the Maronite Bishops Council expressed concern for the latest tensions that have broken out between the Palestinian factions in the Ain-el-Hilweh refugee camp. In a statement at the end of their monthly meeting presided over by Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï, the bishops urged the government and the military and security complex to "take immediate and definitive measures to put an end to the rampant dissemination of weapons within the camp", highlighting the obligation to "return to legitimate security".
(L.M.) (Fides News Agency 3/8/2023)