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Security Tensions Rise in Palestinian Refugee Camp as Mahmoud Abbas Visits Beirut | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Some residents have fled Ain al-Hilweh due to clashes in the area during the past couple of days [Reuters]

Beirut- Tension has escalated in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh, with the arrival of President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas to Beirut.

Abbas is scheduled for a three-day visit to Beirut.

Extremist armed factions nestled in the camp initiated a shootout incidentally with the announcement of Abbas arriving in Beirut, resulting in the injury of a civilian, security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Fears exacerbated that the incident paired with Abbas’ visit would be a mere introduction to a snowballing destabilization of camp security.

Undermining camp stability has become a graver fear in light of holding back security forces from maintaining security within camp premise. The security situation has become fragile as a result of ongoing disagreements between camp factions.

Palestinian embassy sources strongly denied that Abbas would be discussing Ain al-Hilweh security during his visit, pointing out that it is considered ‘secondary’ next to topics the top Palestinian leader plans on discussing with Lebanese officials.

More so, diplomats said that it is up to the Palestinian leaders in Lebanon to decide on camp security.

Palestinian national security chief in Lebanon, Major General Subhi Abu Arab said that Fatah movement, which Abbas also heads, is still decided on suspending its membership from the camp’s security committee.

Fatah waits to re-examine its internal faction functions and the decision-making process. After reassessment, the faction plans to restructure its inner hierarchy, said Maj. Gen. Arab.

“Each faction singlehandedly manages duties in terms of maintaining security inside the camp, without reference to the security committee,” Maj.Gen. Arab told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Speaking on disorder experienced by the camp and which led to the breakdown of the committee’s efficiency, sources say that the chaos is a result of the complex decision-making approach adopted by Fatah.

The unanimous consensus of 15 factions is required for any measure to be implemented. In the case of a single opposition, the whole process is canceled.