Mustafa Fahs

The Debates of the Armed Struggle from and to South Lebanon

The Hamas Movement’s announcement of establishing the so-called “Vanguards of the Al-Aqsa Flood” in Lebanon has raised concerns among all Lebanese, especially the residents of the South, over the return of the Palestinian armed struggle to the interior via the Lebanese border.

The statement, which the leadership was quick to clarify, was considered by a large portion of the Lebanese to be an announcement of the re-militarization of Palestinian refugees outside the camps and a project to change the political and ideological scene within them.

From Gaza to the outside world, the statement reveals that whoever issued it began preparing for the post-Gaza war phase, regardless of its political and military outcomes and away from the form of the next settlement.

It is likely that Hamas and its regional allies are working to address a new political and security reality that will be imposed by the Israeli killing machine at home, requiring the imposition of an alternative situation abroad.

This situation will compensate for Hamas’ weakened ability to engage in direct clashes with the Israelis at home, and also reimburses its supporters for losing the card of their rough, indirect friction with Tel Aviv at home and transferring it to the Lebanese border through the Palestinian factions specifically, in an attempt to maintain control of the conflict, taking advantage of the full absence of a solution plan that preserves the remaining rights of the people, and of the Israeli obstinacy that completely refuses to grant the minimum of these rights.

From inside the camps, the statement is consistent with the clarification issued by Hamas that it is talking about a cultural, social, and not a military plan.

But this is on the surface. On the inside, there are joint Lebanese-Palestinian fears that emerged months before the outbreak of the confrontation in Gaza, over a plan to change the political nature of the Palestinian refugee presence in Lebanon.

It was clear at the time that the decision was to curb the political and security role of the PLO and the Fatah movement in favor of the opposed factions, taking advantage of the slackness of Fatah and the confusion of the representatives of the Palestinian National Authority in Lebanon, as well as their failure to manage the camps.

On the other hand, very influential regional and local Lebanese forces were already planning to seize the Palestinian card in Lebanon in the event of an expected breakthrough in the peace process and the two-state solution, which would have weakened their position and influence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

From outside the camps, concerns emerged over the return of the Palestinian guerrilla action, which began in Lebanon in 1965 and ended in 1982, and whose features returned timidly before Oct. 7, through the launching of rockets from Lebanon into the occupied Palestinian territory, under the cover of what is called the unity of the battlegrounds. These movements expanded after Oct. 7, publicly, officially, and with internal cover, which raised concerns among all Lebanese, including the circles that support that armed struggle, about turning its areas into open battlefields, similar to the pre1982 era.

In the past, Lebanon was a haven for fighters of international liberation movements in solidarity with the Palestinian cause. But today, after the fall of Turkish militants within the ranks of Hamas in South Lebanon, future events may turn the country into a refuge for jihadi movements, under the pretext of solidarity with the Palestinian cause. This constitutes a greater threat to the Lebanese fabric, especially since these groups can neither be managed nor their orientations controlled.

From and to Lebanon, it seems that attempts to prevent the expansion of the clash outside Gaza are diminishing. Tel Aviv is exerting diplomatic pressure to implement UN Resolution 1701, that is, Hezbollah’s retreat from the international border towards the northern bank of the Litani River. However, the party is preparing for a confrontation that may be open if the Israeli army resorted to other options. This means that the presence of Hamas and other armed factions alongside the party has become a fait accompli... and this discussion will continue.