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Deadly clashes break out during funeral for Hamas member in Lebanon refugee camp

Several said killed in gun battle between Hamas and Fatah members at burial of Hamza Shaheen, who was killed when underground weapons depot exploded

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Armed fighters and people take part in a funeral procession for Hamza Ibrahim Shahin (pictured in posters), a member of the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, in the Burj al-Shamali camp for Palestinian refugees near the southern Lebanese coastal city of Tyre on December 12, 2021. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)
Armed fighters and people take part in a funeral procession for Hamza Ibrahim Shahin (pictured in posters), a member of the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, in the Burj al-Shamali camp for Palestinian refugees near the southern Lebanese coastal city of Tyre on December 12, 2021. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

Several people were killed during an armed clash in the Burj Shamali refugee camp in Lebanon on Sunday, during the funeral of a Hamas member who died in an explosion in the camp two nights before, medics said.

Hamas official Raafat al-Murra said gunmen from the rival Fatah movement “shot at the funeral procession,” killing at least three members of the terror group.

On Friday night, an alleged Hamas weapons depot hidden underneath a mosque in the camp, located near the port city of Tyre, exploded, killing Hamza Shaheen. The terror group claimed Shaheen as a member, but did not state what his position was. In an announcement following his death, Hamas said that he was “martyred in a mission of jihad.”

Four were killed and several others were hurt in the clash in the refugee camp during the funeral on Sunday, the Hamas-linked al-Resalah news outlet reported, citing medical sources in Lebanon.

In video footage from the funeral, heavy gunfire can be heard.

Sunday’s funeral was attended by several senior Hamas officials, according to reports.

On Friday, reports said a fire started in a diesel tanker and spread to a nearby mosque controlled by the Palestinian terror group. The fire then set off some of the weapons that appeared to have been stored inside the mosque, according to the residents.

The state-run NNA news agency said that the state prosecutor in southern Lebanon had asked security agencies and arms experts to inspect the arms storage site that belongs to Hamas, adding that the site was not affiliated with the Hezbollah terror group that controls much of southern Lebanon.

Hamas denied arms were stored at the site of the explosion, and claimed oxygen tanks and other equipment used to combat COVID-19 exploded due to a fire caused by an electrical short.

The denial came after a Hamas source told a Lebanese newspaper the arms cache that exploded was “for defense.” The source also confirmed the blast was caused by a fire.

Immediately after the blasts, Lebanese troops deployed around the camp and briefly prevented people from entering or leaving.

Last week, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that Hamas quietly established a Lebanon branch of its Gaza-based terror group in recent years in order to open up an additional front against Israel in future conflicts.

The branch is based in Tyre, but it is believed to have other outposts throughout the country, according to Yedioth.

Lebanon is home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Many live in 12 refugee camps scattered around the small Mediterranean country.

By longstanding agreement, the Lebanese army does not enter the camps, leaving security inside to Palestinian factions.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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