After shootings and outbreaks of violence in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, UNRWA decided over the weekend to halt all activities there. With this, the UN agency dedicated to Palestinian refugees wants to protest against the increasing violence and the presence of armed groups in its facilities in Ain Al-Hilweh near Sidon. Very interesting!
As for the violence in Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza Strip or in the Palestinian-controlled territories of the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, UNRWA has made no complaints. For years, weapons and rockets were stored at various UNRWA sites in the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers were attacked by terrorists from UNRWA schools. We have written about this numerous times during operations in the Gaza Strip. But UNRWA has not publicly or operationally protested. Not a word. In the many wars in Gaza, UNRWA has suffered great damage because Hamas exploited its presence, and Israel had little choice but to target its facilities.
But in Lebanon, the Palestinians’ very own UN agency behaves differently, presumably because the enemy of the Palestinians there are not Israelis and Jews. Lebanese sources reported days of street fighting between Fatah terrorists and two other “Islamic militias,” namely Jund al Sham and Shabab al Muslim, which disagree with the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Violent clashes erupted in late July after Fatah accused its rivals of killing a senior Fatah figure. At least 13 Palestinians are said to have died in the violence, dozens were injured and UNRWA suffered millions of dollars in damage. This angered UNRWA and therefore triggered the protest.
The Palestinian riots in Lebanon have prompted Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to urge their citizens to leave Lebanon immediately, while other countries like Kuwait have warned their citizens not to go to troubled areas. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati urged Abbas in Ramallah to finally bring about calm in Ain Al-Hilweh and warned that the army may have to intervene to stop the shootings between the Palestinian factions. According to UNRWA, around 60,000 Palestinians live in the camp. However, since the outbreak of civil war in Syria, the number of refugees has risen to 120,000. Translated, the camp’s name means “Sweet Water Spring,” probably exactly the opposite of what it really is.
Residents registered in Lebanon as “Palestinian refugees” and their Lebanese-born descendants live in neighborhoods that are labeled “refugee camps,” but do not look like them. In most cases, these refugee camps look like other normal neighborhoods in Lebanese cities. However, the Lebanese government does not grant citizenship to these residents. After 75 years of exclusion from the labor market, the education system and health care, Palestinian refugees, especially the younger generation, see membership in terrorist organizations or armed gangs as a way to overcome their marginalization. Why doesn’t the world get upset that Arab governments are neglecting the Palestinian refugees and their descendants?
According to Israeli historians like Gilad Beeri, Palestinian refugee camps like Ain Al-Hilweh are heavily fortified, full of bunkers and firing positions. Israeli soldiers in the 1982 Lebanon War were unprepared for this type of combat and expected more open-air combat. The densely populated area hampered Israeli tactics and created parity between Israeli tanks and Palestinian rocket-propelled grenades, which were often operated by Palestinians as young as 13 or 14. Welcome to Ain Al-Hilweh. The Lebanese soldiers are not even allowed to enter the Palestinian areas in Ain al-Hilweh.
There are no official security forces in the twelve camps in Lebanon. The Lebanese police and army have left security in these camps to the Palestinians under the 1969 Cairo Accords. That was a tactical mistake that Lebanon is paying dearly for today. The camps have become a Palestinian stronghold, where the Palestinians call the shots and not the Lebanese government. Ain Al-Hilweh is therefore considered a “legal vacuum,” a modern Wild West. The Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp has become something of a refuge for wanted people, at least that’s what the government in Beirut suspects.
Post: The Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) decided today, Friday, to suspend its services at the Ain Al-Hilwa camp in southern Lebanon in protest over damage to its buildings.
Suddenly, UNRWA protests and halts its work because of the violence and damage in Lebanon’s largest refugee camp. UNRWA and the refugee camps, which are still referred to as such, are the greatest obstacle to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. UNRWA has squandered billions of dollars over seven decades and solved nothing. The so-called Palestinian refugee camps in the Palestinian-controlled territories, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are the best propaganda against Israel. “A trademark that must be kept alive until Israel disappears,” a Palestinian journalist told me in Jerusalem many years ago. And the best contribution to this is made by UNRWA, and now the “relief organization” and its patron are protesting against their pet for the first time.
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