SIDON, Lebanon: Palestinian factions in south Lebanon’s Mieh Mieh Palestinian refugee camp have begun the second phase of making the camp weapons-free as part of an agreement reached with the Lebanese Army.
The second phase, implemented Monday night, required the three leading factions of the camp - Fatah, Hamas and Ansar Allah - to transfer most of the weapons they had collected and stored in their warehouses in Mieh Mieh to the nearby Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp.
According to sources, the second phase of transferring the weapons was initiated by Fatah and was followed by similar actions from Hamas and Ansar Allah. Sources said the transfer was going smoothly and in coordination with the Army.
The operation will include medium and heavy weapons in addition to light weapons, some of which will remain in Mieh Mieh.
The initial phase stipulated that no one in the camp could hold a weapon publicly or wear a military uniform. It also specified that every faction had to collect the weapons carried by its members, place them in their respective area and not allow anyone to use them. Violators of the deal will be subject to arrest by the Army, to which the camps are off-limits.
According to Palestinian sources with knowledge of the issue, the aim of the agreement is to remove the weapons of Fatah, Hamas and Ansar Allah from inside Mieh Mieh to reassure camp residents and neighboring areas. The camp has been experiencing tensions since deadly clashes last October.
Sources added that the agreement was not about disarming the camps, as most of the Palestinian factions see their weapons as a symbol of resistance in their struggle against Israel. Weapons are also considered by some as a symbol of the camp residents’ desire to return to Palestine.
The factions emphasized their commitment to the deal, which followed meetings that began in March to find a permanent solution to the tensions, and agreed to begin implementing it immediately last week.
Fatah removed its checkpoint on the southwestern camp entry and began withdrawing its armed personnel from the streets last Friday.