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Lebanon: Ain el-Hilweh’s Wanted Men Escape Amid Security Forces' Preoccupation With Protests

Lebanon: Ain el-Hilweh’s Wanted Men Escape Amid Security Forces' Preoccupation With Protests

Friday, 8 November, 2019 - 08:45
A man rides on a motorbike inside the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon, southern Lebanon, August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
Beirut - Paula Astih

A number of wanted men in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh took advantage of the security forces’ preoccupation with the popular movement since October 17 to flee to Syria and Turkey, breaking the security cordon imposed by the Lebanese army on the camp.

While reports noted that around 10 wanted men fled the camp towards Syria, the deputy commander of the Palestinian National Security Forces in Lebanon, Mounir al-Maqdah, said about five of them had left the camp in the past few days to Syria, and then to Turkey. He added that those were not among the most-wanted and were not very well-known.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “Those people usually rely on false identity cards, and they took advantage of the current situation in Lebanon to find a passage to escape.”

Al-Maqdah described the situation in the camp, which usually witnesses security tensions, as “good,” mainly “due to the presence of a unified Palestinian position” and constant coordination with the Lebanese army.”

A Palestinian source inside Ain al-Hilweh told Asharq Al-Awsat that at least four wanted men have escaped, including Hassan al-Shibli, Mahmoud al-Hayek, Shadi al-Suri and Yahya Abu al-Saiid, pointing out that they had fled from the camp towards Syria via the Bekaa border.

The source told Asharq Al-Awsat that many young men wanted on charges of belonging to extremist groups are looking for a way to flee, especially after they feel they are encircled by Fatah and the Lebanese security services.

“There are less than 100 wanted men left in the camp, most notably Haitham and Mohammed al-Shaabi, Bilal Badr, Osama al-Shihabi, and Ziad Abu Naaj,” according to the source.

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