SIDON, Lebanon: The 150-strong elite force tasked with maintaining security inside the troubled Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh will deploy on July 8, Palestinian factions announced Saturday.
"The 150-strong security force will begin deployment at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and take up four permanent positions inside the camp: the vegetable market, al-Braksat, Safsaf and Bustan al-Yahudi," Fathi Abu al-Ardat, the representative of both Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon, said after a meeting with the various factions.
The decision to form the elite force came after several clashes inside the camp between the radical Fatah al-Islam group and supporters of the Fatah Movement.
Earlier this week, the factions decided the force’s tasks would be distributed as such: 40 members would carry out patrols and escorts, 30 would be for intervention or executive forces, 20 for social security, 35 for traffic, 25 for prison guards and members of the inquiry committee, as well as members of the investigation and information committee, the technical team, the committee on social reform, awareness and guidance, along with financial management.
"From here in Ain el-Hilweh, we are sending a message of peace and stability to protect the Palestinian presence in Lebanon, in line with the Palestinian initiative that was announced by the Muslim and national parties,” Ardat said.
“Ain el-Hilweh is our second home until we return to Palestine ... we also insist that the bitter experience of Nahr al-Bared will never be repeated,” he noted, referring to the 2007 military campaign against the northern Palestinian refugee camp in Nahr al-Bared to root out Fatah al-Islam militants.
Aside from the high number of casualties among Lebanese Army personnel and Palestinians, the fighting between soldiers and militants inflicted heavy damage to the camp.
Ardat also said that Palestinian factions have a responsibility to maintain security and stability inside the camp at a time of major and dangerous changes.