Lebanon News

Ain al-Hilweh residents concerned over arms transfers

SIDON, Lebanon: Residents of Ain al-Hilweh expressed their skepticism and concern Thursday regarding a deal by Palestinian factions to transfer weapons from another camp to theirs.

In a bid to rid the Mieh Mieh refugee camp of most of its weapons, three of that camp’s leading factions this week transferred most of the weapons they had collected and stored to Ain al-Hilweh.

The Fatah Movement, the Hamas Movement and Ansar Allah moved the weapons to their respective warehouses in Ain al-Hilweh. The transfer was the second phase of making Mieh Mieh largely weapons-free as part of a deal reached with the Army.

Mieh Mieh has been experiencing tensions since October, when clashes broke out between Fatah and Ansar Allah, killing at least five people and injuring 30 more.

But some Ain al-Hilweh residents argue the transfer of the weapons could contribute to an increase in tensions there, saying the camp cannot handle more weapons, claiming there are already many in the camp.

The residents added that the deal would increase the security burden on Ain al-Hilweh. Some residents of Ain al-Hilweh also expressed fear that the weapons being transferred would be controlled by unlawful armed groups within the camp.

Palestinian sources told The Daily Star that Palestinian officials within Ain al-Hilweh were informed of the residents’ criticism over the move. “If the Palestinian factions reached a comprehensive plan ... to secure the safety of the Mieh Mieh, then what are the factions’ plans to protect Ain al-Hilweh?”

Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine official Fouad Othman told The Daily Star that despite the questions raised around the agreement, he said it was important to “organize the Palestinian weapons in a way that benefits [Lebanese and Palestinian] interests.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 17, 2019, on page 2.

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