Lebanon: Escalating Violence in Ain al-Hilweh Threatens Camp's Vicinity

 Palestinians flee Ain al-Hilweh Camp to escape conflict (AP)
Palestinians flee Ain al-Hilweh Camp to escape conflict (AP)
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Lebanon: Escalating Violence in Ain al-Hilweh Threatens Camp's Vicinity

 Palestinians flee Ain al-Hilweh Camp to escape conflict (AP)
Palestinians flee Ain al-Hilweh Camp to escape conflict (AP)

In the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp continues to grapple with political contradictions and on-the-ground complexities, preventing the establishment of a decisive ceasefire agreement.

Renewed sporadic clashes persist within the camp, as various factions vie for territorial influence, while Islamic factions seek to exploit the absence of a decisive political stance from “Fatah,” according to a prominent Palestinian source within the camp speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The ceasefire agreement, negotiated by Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) factions on one side and Islamic factions on the other, has failed to hold ground, lacking the political impetus from both Lebanese and Palestinian authorities and the oversight of the Lebanese army.

A meeting was convened, hosted by the national security officer in Lebanon’s south, Col. Suhail Harb, and attended by the Secretary-General of the Fatah Movement Fathi Abu Ardat, and a representative of Hamas in Lebanon, Ahmed Abdul Hadi.

Sporadic clashes have reignited at Ain al-Hilweh, with gunfire extending beyond the camp’s borders, resulting in the death of one individual in the neighboring town of Ghaziyeh, and injuries to two others.

The road connecting Sidon to the south remains closed at the eastern highway due to sniper fire and stray bullets. The casualty toll from the ongoing clashes has risen to three.

As the fighting intensifies within the confines of the camp, political communications have also broadened.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Saturday that he has issued stringent directives calling for a complete and comprehensive ceasefire in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.

Abbas made this declaration in a statement following a telephone conversation with Lebanese Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, during which they discussed the ongoing events in Ain al-Hilweh.

He emphasized the necessity for all parties to commit to achieving the ceasefire.

According to the statement, Abbas underscored his commitment to “attaining this ceasefire, ensuring that matters are addressed in accordance with Lebanese law and in coordination with the Lebanese state.”



Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
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Israel Bombs Gaza after US Criticizes High Civilian Toll

Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
Palestinians inspect at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in the central Gaza Strip, July 16, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed

Israel renewed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip Tuesday, after the United States renewed its criticism of its ally over the high civilian casualty toll of the war.

Residents told AFP of Israeli warplanes striking central Gaza and artillery fire hitting the territory's south, while medics said they pulled multiple bodies from the rubble of the latest bombardment.

Hours earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told two top Israeli officials that casualties among Palestinian civilians "still remain unacceptably high".

"We continue to see far too many civilians killed in this conflict," spokesman Matthew Miller said after Blinken meth Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

Washington has been pushing for a truce between Israel and Hamas.

But Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the group was pulling out of indirect talks for a deal in protest at recent Israeli "massacres", including a massive strike on Sunday that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed at least 92 people.

Haniyeh said Hamas stood ready to return to the indirect talks once Israel "demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal".

After the latest deadly strikes, medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they recovered four bodies from a house outside the southern city of Khan Yunis and another from Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza.

The Israeli military said that over the previous 24 hours its air force struck "approximately 40 terror targets" in Gaza. They included "sniping posts, observation posts, Hamas military structures, terror infrastructure, and buildings rigged with explosives".

It said its troops were also continuing targeted raids in the far-southern city of Rafah and in the central Gaza Strip.