Lebanon News

Retaliatory shooting leaves one wounded in Ain al-Hilweh

A Palestinian joint security forces member secure the area in Ain al-Hilweh, Thursday, April 13, 2017. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: One person was wounded Tuesday after a Fatah Movement member opened fire in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, in an apparent attempted retaliation against the murder of one of the group’s members.

Palestinian security sources reported that a passerby was wounded in a drive-by shooting in the camp’s Hettin neighborhood, after at least one of three people in the car opened fire.

Footage from the streets of Ain al-Hilweh caught the incident on camera and identified the shooter as a member of the family of Mohammad Nazih Khalil, known as Abu al-Kel, who was fatally shot Friday afternoon while on his way to visit a friend in Hettin. Palestinian security forces immediately opened an investigation into the incident.

Fatah Monday had threatened to launch a raid in Ain al-Hilweh to apprehend Abu al-Kel’s suspected killer, sparking fear of clashes.

The suspected killer has been identified as Fatah al-Islam-affiliated I.A.Kh., and is believed to be hiding out in Hettin. The neighborhood is dominated by the “Muslim Shabab” group, formed of members of Fatah al-Islam and Jund al-Sham.

A Fatah security source had told The Daily Star Sunday that surveillance footage showed I.A.Kh. commit the murder with three accomplices and then flee into Hettin.

The head of the Fatah-led joint Palestinian security force Bassam Saad held a meeting Monday morning with local committees from Hettin and the adjacent Loubieh neighborhood, emphasizing that I.A.Kh. had to be handed over.

“If this is not done, we will have to raid the area he is hiding in and arrest him by force,” Saad said.

An investigation into the killing has been launched by a joint committee made up of the main Palestinian factions in Lebanon.

A source in the camp said Fatah would likely conduct an operation “to bring in or kill” I.A.Kh., but said the group was keen to avoid sparking an all-out battle. The source said Lebanese security officials had warned Palestinian officials to maintain calm and avoid clashes, particularly in Hettin, as it is meters away from the Sidon-Tyre highway.

A statement released Sunday night by the Muslim Shabab group said it was also opposed to waging a major battle, but added it would be forced to respond to any attack.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 01, 2019, on page 2.

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