Palestinian fighters in Lebanon camp agree new truce after another week of violence

Deal brokered by Lebanese parliament speaker comes after at least 17 people killed and around 100 wounded in the clashes in Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp

This handout picture released on the X account (formerly Twitter) of the Lebanese Army on September 14, 2023 shows Lebanese Army Chief Joseph Aoun meeting with soldiers at the Mohammad Zgheib Barracks in the southern coastal city of Sidon amid ongoing clashes in the Ain al-Helwe refugee camp. (Handout/Twitter account of Lebanese Army/AFP)
This handout picture released on the X account (formerly Twitter) of the Lebanese Army on September 14, 2023 shows Lebanese Army Chief Joseph Aoun meeting with soldiers at the Mohammad Zgheib Barracks in the southern coastal city of Sidon amid ongoing clashes in the Ain al-Helwe refugee camp. (Handout/Twitter account of Lebanese Army/AFP)

SIDON, Lebanon — Palestinian fighters agreed a new ceasefire on Thursday after more than a week of deadly violence in Lebanon’s largest refugee camp, two Palestinian officials told AFP.

At least 17 people have been killed and around 100 wounded in the fighting in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp, on the outskirts of the port city of Sidon, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent’s Lebanon branch.

The clashes have pitted fighters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, which controls the camp, against those aligned with the Hamas terror group.

“The two parties agreed to implement a ceasefire… starting today at 6 p.m.,” Palestinian camp official Fuad Othman told AFP by telephone.

A Palestinian official close to Fatah confirmed the agreement, requesting anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the press.

The agreement came after the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, met separately with Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad and Hamas’s Mussa Abu Marzouk on Thursday.

This handout picture released on the X account (formerly Twitter) of the Lebanese Army on September 14, 2023, shows Lebanese Army Chief Joseph Aoun visiting injured soldiers at a hospital in Beirut amid ongoing clashes in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp. (Handout/Twitter account of Lebanese Army/AFP)

Hamas is not involved in the fighting but is in contact with the Islamist hardliners, Othman said.

Previous ceasefires had collapsed when the warring parties failed to honor commitments to hand over fighters wanted by the other side, he added.

An AFP correspondent in Sidon said the camp was calm after the truce took effect.

Women sit with their children after fleeing the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon’s southern coastal city of Sidon on September 9, 2023, amid renewed clashes between the Fatah movement and Islamists. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

Five Fatah fighters who died in the clashes were buried on Thursday, he added.

Lebanese army chief Joseph Aoun visited a Sidon brigade on Thursday and was briefed “on the missions carried out in light of the clashes” inside the camp, the army said.

By longstanding convention, the Lebanese army stays out of the Palestinian camps and leaves the factions to handle security.

Ein el-Hilweh is home to more than 54,000 registered refugees and thousands of Palestinians who joined them in recent years from neighboring Syria, fleeing the civil war there.

Smoke rises during clashes between members of the Palestinian Fatah group and Islamist militants in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh near the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, September 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has said the fighting has displaced hundreds of families.

Five days of fighting in the camp in late July killed 13 people and wounded dozens.

Rivals Fatah and Hamas are the most prominent Palestinian factions. Fatah dominates the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, while Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.

Lebanon is home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, who face numerous restrictions and can’t receive citizenship. Many live in the 12 refugee camps that are scattered around the small Mediterranean country.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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