Lebanese opposition politician blames Hezbollah for deadly Palestinian clashes

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Militants fire into the air during the funeral of two Fatah commanders at a Palestinian refugee camp in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre on July 31, 2023. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)
Militants fire into the air during the funeral of two Fatah commanders at a Palestinian refugee camp in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre on July 31, 2023. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

The head of a Lebanese opposition party blames the ongoing clashes in a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon on Hezbollah’s control over the country.

“The problem today is that nobody has the authority to ensure security in the camps, we are a country left to itself, without leadership. We are a country of people who only think of emigration. We have [security] problems from the southern border [with Israel] to the northern border with Syria. And that is because of Hezbollah,” says Samy Gemayel, leader of the right-wing Christian Kataeb Party, also known as the Phalanges.

An armed confrontation broke out three days ago inside the Ain al-Helweh camp, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, between members of Fatah, the secular party ruling the Palestinian Authority, and Islamist factions. The clashes have so far caused the death of 11 people and forced more than 2,000 to flee the violence, according to the UN.

“Hezbollah wants to leave Lebanon defenseless and vulnerable to any sort of conflict. It is keeping Lebanon hostage, and it is willing to deprive the country of its economy, its institutions, its army, its weapons. Hezbollah is responsible for every problem affecting Lebanon,” he adds.

Gemayel also indicates that the Palestinian Authority is ready to demilitarize all the camps in preparation for the Lebanese army to enter them and impose their authority and restore security.

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