According to local media, heavy fighting between armed Palestinian groups at a refugee camp in Lebanon continued for a third consecutive day on Monday morning. At least nine people have been killed since the clashes began on Saturday. More than 40 people have been wounded.
Tensions sparked at the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Saida over the weekend after a failed assassination attempt on a senior Fatah member. Fatah controls security within the camp.
On Sunday, Abu Sheref el-Armoushi, one of the camp’s senior Fatah commanders, and four of his guards were killed during an ambush. The assailants are still unknown as of Monday afternoon.
The fighting escalated between armed factions and Fatah fighters following Armoushi’s killing. Grenades, heavy machine guns and shoulder-fired missiles have been used in the fighting. Later Sunday night, a ceasefire was reached between local groups, including Hezbollah representatives and its close ally, the Amal movement.
However, NNA, the official Lebanese National News Agency, reported that fighting continued Monday morning as clashes could be heard throughout Saida. According to NNA, there was limited damage after a missile fell outside the camp in the southern part of the city.
They added that school, university and community center activities have been paralyzed. Residents are either taking shelter indoors or fleeing the camp altogether to avoid being caught in the crossfire.
The director of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (UNRWA), Dorothee Klaus, said more than 200 families have been displaced by the fighting so far. According to the Lebanese health ministry, all patients from the Saida Governmental Hospital near the camp have been evacuated and are still monitoring the situation.
On Sunday, the U.N. agency suspended all operations in the camp. Two Unrwa schools have already been damaged during the intense fighting.
The Ain al-Hilweh camp is in Saida in southern Lebanon. It is the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, housing a population of almost 80,000 people living in a 1.5 square kilometer area.
More than 480,000 Palestinian refugees are living in 12 camps throughout Lebanon. Palestinian factions, mainly Fatah, are responsible for governance and security inside the camps. While Lebanese forces control checkpoints leading to the camps, they do not intervene in security matters within them.
Clashes have occurred between activists from small armed groups controlling neighborhoods within the camp and Fatah fighters. A senior Fatah official was killed last August in Ain al-Hilweh by an unidentified assailant. There were also limited clashes throughout 2021.