SIDON, Lebanon: Members of two Palestinian groups Saturday morning raided the home of a notorious Islamist in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, who has been accused of murdering a brother of a member of the Islamist Osbat al-Ansar.
Palestinian sources from inside the camp told The Daily Star Saturday that members of Osbat al-Ansar and the Fatah Movement raided the house of the Islamist, Bilal al-Arqoub, in the Ras al-Ahmar area of the camp. Arqoub took shelter in another house, and limited fighting ensued, damaging buildings in the area.
He then changed locations, and still has yet to be found, despite raids by the groups in multiple other residential areas where Arqoub was suspected of hiding out. The sources said Arqoub is now believed to have fled to the Manshieh neighborhood deep inside the camp.
The sources said that despite its failure, the operation sends a “strong message” about the Palestinian factions’ intent to maintain security and stability in the camp and the surrounding areas.
Arqoub has been accused of being responsible for the death of the brother of the Osbat al-Ansar member, Hussein Alaaeddine.
On Friday, a masked gunman had opened fire on Alaaeddine while he was taking part in a demonstration for Palestinian rights in Ras al-Ahmar. He was seriously wounded, and was taken to a hospital in Sidon, where he died soon after.
Alaaeddine’s family claimed that a member of the Arqoub family had killed Alaaeddine out of revenge for a previous altercation.
In March, Hussein’s brother Khaled, a member of Osbat al-Ansar, allegedly shot and critically wounded Bilal al-Arqoub’s son Youssef in the camp’s Safsaf neighborhood, which is dominated largely by the camp’s Islamist factions.
Saturday's events led many residents of Ain al-Hilweh to flee their houses for other areas, both inside and outside the camp. The Lebanese Army, which was deployed in the camp's upper part, opened Ain al-Hilweh's eastern entrance to facilitate the residents' exit and entry.
Official exams that were scheduled to be held at a school facing Ain al-Hilweh had to be relocated to another school due to the recent clashes. However, Sidon’s markets were not affected by the nearby clashes, and many people, including Arab and foreign tourists, continued shopping undistrupted in the city’s old souks.
This article was amended on Saturday, August 03 2019
This article previously stated that Bilal Badr, an Islamist who was involved in clashes in Ain al-Hilweh in 2017, had fled with Arqoub following the raid Saturday. In fact, Badr was not involved in the incident. The Daily Star regrets the error.