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Ain el-Hilweh Picks up the Pieces after Latest Round of Clashes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A view shows the damage inside the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon, southern Lebanon on April 11, 2017. (Reuters)

Beirut – Residents of the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh began picking up the pieces following the latest round of armed clashes in the volatile camp in southern Lebanon.

Palestinian leaders vowed that they would break up the Bilal Badr armed Islamist group involved in clashes with security forces inside the camp.

At least seven people have been killed since Friday as combatants exchanged machine gun, rocket and mortar fire in the crowded camp near the coastal city of Sidon. A ceasefire was announced after the five days of unrest.

The latest settlement between the Islamist factions, Fatah movement and Hamas militant group has created differences within the movement as some of its members have pushed for continuing the fighting until Badr is arrested, while others advocated the ceasefire.

The clashes initially erupted after the security force sought to deploy throughout the camp and met resistance from the Badr group.

Commander of Palestinian National Security Sobh Abou Arab told Asharq Al-Awsat that the military command had received a political order to halt the fighting, saying that it has committed to it.

He described the situation in the camp as “good” in wake of the ceasefire.

“Bilal Badr has escaped like a rat and has been completely removed from the equation,” he added.

The Lebanese army has meanwhile intensified its security measures around Ain el-Hilweh and throughout Sidon.

Army Commander Joseph Aoun declared that the measures are aimed at “protecting civilians and preventing the infiltration of outlaws.”

He vowed that the army “will strike back with force” against any attack on the military or residential areas near the camp.

Lebanon’s Palestinian camps, which date back to the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, mainly fall outside the jurisdiction of Lebanese security services. There are some 450,000 Palestinian refugees living in 12 camps in Lebanon.

The residents of Ain el-Hilweh on Thursday began to remove the rubble from the latest round of fighting that has heavily damaged the area.

Sources on the ground told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Dozens of residents are demanding that a state of ‘relief emergency’ be declared.”