SIDON, Lebanon: The Palestinian factions of Sidon’s Ain al-Hilweh camp recently provided the Lebanese authorities with a list of names of people wanted over security-related crimes and other misdeeds, sources close to the groups told The Daily Star Wednesday.
The sources explained that the factions, including Islamist groups, handed over the list. However, the document did not mean that the authorities would give those listed lighter treatment, the source said, insisting that the necessary legal measures would still be taken in order to determine whether those wanted should be convicted or not.
The authorities will now look into the cases of those wanted and take the necessary action. Their decision will be based on the type of verdict and whether the suspects are wanted for political or security reasons. Additionally, the authorities will look into the legality of the arrest warrants.
Prior to handing over the list, talks were held between General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and Brig. Gen. Ali Shahrour, the chief of military intelligence in the south and representatives of the factions, with the aim of maintaining peace and security within Ain al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in the country.
Officials and figures in Ain al-Hilweh have been struggling to keep the camp calm for months, amid a growing influx of foreign extremist Sunni militants seeking to partake in the war in Syria. In March, Palestinian factions from across the country signed a memorandum of understanding in which they swore to keep themselves out of both internal conflicts and the civil war in Syria.
The latest development also comes in the wake of the recent events in Iraq, where an extremist Sunni group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), has gained so much territory that it is now advancing on the capital Baghdad.
Those wanted by the Lebanese authorities have carried out a series of unlawful activities and are believed to be a danger to the security situation within the camp.
Some suspects are wanted for involvement in explosions targeting UNIFIL, murder attempts and theft, while others are wanted for trivial things such as undirected throwing of hand grenades. Those who fall in the latter category constitute the largest number on the list, which comprises 300 to 400 suspects and will receive a lower punishment than the others.
The production of the list has prompted various groups to spring into action.
According to a well-placed source, Hezbollah is making efforts with Lebanese authorities to resolve the cases of those who fall in the more trivial category, largely for the sake of preserving Lebanese-Palestinian relations.
The Islamist group Usbat al-Ansar, based in Ain al-Hilweh, is making similar efforts in an attempt to improve its image in the eyes of the Lebanese government.
The agreement between the various factions and authorities is the latest development in a tense few months that have seen clashes and assassinations dominate the camp.
The violence has largely been between followers of Bilal Badr, who led the disbanded Fatah al-Islam group, and supporters of Fatah Movement official Talal al-Urduni.
The unrest prompted major Palestinian powers to come together to choose an elite Palestinian security force. The 150-member force will be responsible for upholding the security situation within the camp, particularly in areas where there have been clashes.
The deployment of these forces took longer than expected, and with the latest regional developments, there are worries that it will be tricky to calm the camp before the beginning of Ramadan, the deadline for the force’s deployment.