Lebanon News

Shootout erupts in Ain al-Hilweh after son of notorious Islamist wounded

Members of the Palestinian National Security Forces in Ain al-Hilweh, March 14, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Three were wounded Thursday at shootout in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, which erupted after the son of a notorious Islamist was shot by a rival faction.

Youssef Bilal al-Arqoub was critically wounded when he was shot by Khaled Alaaeddine, also known as al-Khomeini, in the camp’s Safsaf neighborhood.

A Palestinian source told The Daily Star that Arqoub’s family responded by firing snipers in the neighborhood, leading to a shootout that left three wounded.

The incident happened just minutes after the new United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis concluded his first visit to Ain-al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.

Arqoub, believed to be affiliated with fundamentalist Islamist groups, is the son of Bilal Arqoub, a militant with ties to Al-Qaeda.

Alaaeddine is an official with the Islamist group Osbat al-Ansar. The Safsaf neighborhood is largely dominated by the camp’s Islamist factions, where Osbat al-Ansar in particular wields great influence.

The source said that Arqoub’s relationship with Osbat al-Ansar recently deteriorated and became very tense after Arqoub’s provocations.

Syrian national Kamal al-Dawoudi, who is a bodyguard of Islamic Jihad Movement head Sheikh Jamal Khattab, was among those wounded in the shootout.

During a phone call with The Daily Star, Khattab said his bodyguard had sustained a minor injury to his foot. He added that the camp’s factions were in talks to ease tensions.

After the shootout, students in nearby schools left Ain al-Hilweh through secure passages. They were taken to safety by Lebanese Army soldiers, who were waiting for them at the camp’s entrance.

In late 2018, Arqoub was involved in a dispute with a Fatah Movement member that left a civilian wounded as a result of a stray bullet from the gunfire.

 

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