Rival factions in Lebanese camp remove barricade
Published Saturday 09/06/2012 (updated) 11/06/2012 10:22
Faction leaders in Ein el-Hilweh removed the barricade.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinians removed a military barrier from the largest refugee camp in Lebanon on Friday, a prominent leader in one of the factions said.
Bassam Abu Sharif said the decision to remove the barricade at the northern entrance to Ein el-Hilweh was reached after an agreement between rival national and Islamic factions.
"We will be together for the sake of return and liberation and we will work with all Lebanese forces as long as they are pro Palestine, which is the core issue in the Arab world," Abu Sharif said.
Top faction commander Subhi Abu Arab also welcomed the move, adding that "from now on there will be no disputes or fighting. Your guns will be pointed only at our enemies."
The decision is thought to be part of an initiative to build security and stability in the camp, as well as a goodwill gesture by factions toward the Lebanese government.
Ein el-Hilweh in Sidon is home to around 70,000 Palestinian refugees and is Lebanon's largest and most notorious camp.
An armed struggle for leadership between rival factions has led to regular violent clashes in the camp since the 1970s.
The Lebanese army is not allowed to enter Palestinian refugee camps as part of a long-standing agreement, leaving them under the control of militant groups and criminal gangs.
There are currently over 400,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and the fragile sectarian composition of Lebanese society makes their presence a sensitive issue.
Refugees in the country have long suffered discrimination and are deprived of basic rights.