SIDON, Lebanon: The newly formed elite security force responsible for stabilizing security in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian camp deployed Tuesday, after a ceremony that gathered the forces with residents and officials.
“It [the deployment] is backed and welcomed by all the residents of the camp as well as its parties and factions,” Gen. Khaled Shayeb, a senior member of the Fatah Movement, told The Daily Star.
The deployment adhered to the previously assigned lines of action, taking the Tahtani and the vegetables market streets, passing by what were previously known as the green lines between Fatah and the Islamists.
Those green lines are the main streets in Ain al-Hilweh that have witnessed significant security incidents. They also include the Safsaf neighborhood, the Fawqani Street, Fatah’s offices at the camp’s main entrance and the Jabal al-Halib area east of the camp.
There were no opposition to the force among the Palestinian factions, and their deployment has so far not faced any obstacles.
The camps Palestinian factions say that the initiative is a way of standing alongside their fellow people and the resistence in Gaza.
40 members will carry out patrols and escorts, 30 for intervention or executive forces, 20 for social security, 35 for traffic, 25 prison guards and members of the inquiry committee. Also, the force include an investigation and information committee, a technical team, a committee on social reform, an awareness and guidance committee and a financial management crew.
A high-ranking Fatah official had told The Daily Star that the forces’ headquarters would be at the Ziad al-Atrash Hall and would include a prison to protect the new security status quo from any agitations.
The force's members were gathered in a public ceremony in Ziad al-Atrash hall, along with party officials and Islamic religious figures.
Jamal al-Khattab, an influential religious figure and Secretary of Islamist Factions in the camp, gave a speech in which he highlighted the role of the elite force.
“[The force] will have a brotherly and mild attitude toward the camp’s people,” he said. “We are not in a battlefield, and the force will be a police that protects the security and stability of the Palestinian community.”
Fatah’s secretary in Lebanon Fathi Abu al-Ardat echoed Khattab’s words, calling on the new force to be “flexible” in their attitude toward residents.
The two leaders stressed that the purpose of the plan is to ensure the safety and stability of the Palestinians until they return to their homeland.
“Returning to our land is the ultimate goal,” Khattab said, explaining that any arrangements in the camps serve this final end.
“The Lebanese authorities have encouraged this initiative, out of their keenness our security, because if we are fine, our neighbor will be fine,” he added.
Asked by The Daily Star about any expected resistance to the security force and its plan, the force’s commander said that no factions have noted any remarks or pledged opposition.
“But we will not tolerate any security violation,” Shayeb said moments before the beginning of the ceremony.
The 150-member force was formed in response to the infiltration of radical groups in the camp, as well as the fighting that had occurred between the Fatah Movement and the extremist Fatah al-Islam.
The elite security force includes members of both Fatah and Hamas, as well as all major Palestinian parties. A Hamas official will be appointed as deputy head of the force.
Fatah’s Lebanon leader Fathi Abu al-Ardat expressed his optimism about the success of the new security force.
“All the success elements of the security forces are there,” he told An-Nahar newspaper Tuesday. “Its action is supported by all Palestinian factions, and it answers security needs inside and outside the camp.”
Al-Ardat also said that the security force will not tolerate any suspicious actions aimed at involving the camp in internal Lebanese politics.
“The Palestinian factions insist on protecting the camp against strife,” he said. “And we don’t want it to be a letterbox for any party."
The elite force had their first meeting on July 3rd, where representatives of the different factions discussed the distribution and deployment of their forces.
In parallel to the security committee, a suggestion for a political committee has also been touted. The head of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee met with Hamas’ political leader in Lebanon Ali Barakeh Monday to discuss the idea. The latter expressed support for such initiative, saying that “subsequent steps would initiate joint security and political forces in the Beddawi and Burj al-Barajneh camps.”