The Daily Star
June 28, 2012 - 12:00am

Local leaders of several Lebanon-based Palestinian factions asked the government Thursday to lift stringent military measures in the refugee camps and cease pursuing residents of the northern camp of Nahr al-Bared following clashes earlier this month.

“We thank our brothers in the army’s leadership for facilitating the issue of permits and loosening security measuring until we reach an end to the military situation imposed on the camp,” a statement released by the factions said.

The statement came following a meeting between Prime Minister Najib Mikati and several Palestinian leaders, including Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lebanon Fathi Abu al-Ardat, Hamas' representative in Lebanon Ali Barakeh, Islamic Jihad official Abu Imad Rifai, and member of the political bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Marwan Abdel-Aal.

The leaders also asked for the release of detainees, primarily the wounded and the sick, who were apprehended following the recent clashes between the army and Palestinians in Nahr al-Bared and Sidon’s Ain al-Hilweh camp, and for compensation for the victims of the 2007 clashes.

On June 15, soldiers shot 15-year-old Ahmad Qassem to death following a violent standoff between the Lebanese Army and locals at Nahr al-Bared.

The incident set off clashes in Ain al-Hilweh camp during which a Palestinian man was killed. Four Palestinians and a Lebanese soldier were wounded.

During Qassem's funeral, unknown assailants attacked army posts in the camp, including one called the Samed post.

During the National Dialogue session Monday, attendees called on the government to establish a mechanism to enact the decisions, form committees to address the socio-economic needs of Palestinian refugees in cooperation with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, and remove arms outside refugee camps.

After their meeting with Mikati at the Grand Serail, the Palestinian leaders also asked the government to end “the raids on Nahr al-Bared residents that have been taking place following the unfortunate incidents of June 15 and 17, 2012.”

“[We affirm the need to] speed up the reconstruction process in the camp by guaranteeing the needed financing from donor countries, the international community and Arab countries in coordination with the state, Palestinian leaderships and UNRWA,” the statement said.

“We affirm that the recent unfortunate events will deepen the brotherly spirit between us and the Lebanese, [a spirit that] preserves Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability and the right of Palestinians to a decent life until they return to their homes,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, a Future Movement delegation visited Nahr al-Bared Thursday to offer condolences over the death of a Palestinian shot by the army earlier this month.

The delegation met with a number of Palestinian figures in the camp and expressed solidarity with residents, affirming unity between Lebanese and Palestinians.

"We are here to announce to you and in public that we support you and condemn all that happened and consider it a mistake that should not occur again," Samer Hdara, Future Movement coordinator in Akkar, north Lebanon, told a crowd of heads of Akkar municipalities and Palestinian factions.

"If a mistake was committed by certain members of the army, we leave it up to the investigation to reveal the truth and punish those involved," he said, adding that his party has always supported the Lebanese Army."

Secretary-General of the Fatah movement in north Lebanon Abu Jihad Fayyad also spoke during the Future Movement visit and expressed appreciation for the role of the Lebanese army inside the camp.

“We have great respect and appreciation for the national army but the psychological, social and economic pressure that residents of the camp live under as a result of the incident five years ago is still a heavy burden on our shoulders,” Fayyad said.

The summer 2007 clashes between the Lebanese Army and the Islamist group Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared severely damaged the camp’s infrastructure. Fayyad also called on the army to loosen security measure inside the camp so as to avert similar clashes.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017