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Assassination attempt adds to Ain al-Hilweh woes

Palestinian gunmen from Fatah stand guard during clashes in Ain al-Hilweh, Monday, May 12, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: A Fatah Movement official Monday escaped an assassination attempt on his life in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, a security source told The Daily Star.

Minutes after the convoy of Talal al-Urduni passed through the neighborhood of Hatteen, a bomb went off, slightly wounding two people, the source said.

It is the latest in a series of violent incidents and confrontations in Ain al-Hilweh, Lebanon’s largest refugee camp, and comes as officials attempt to restore calm and prevent any further escalation by establishing a new, elite security force to police the area.

The process of choosing the 150 people that will constitute a new, elite security force began during a meeting over the weekend when members of the High Palestinian Security Committee, which oversees work in the camp, gathered at Al-Nour Mosque, the headquarters of the Islamic Jihad Movement.

A number of people were given the responsibility of choosing the force’s members: Sheikh Jamal Khattab, the spiritual leader of Islamist groups in Ain al-Hilweh, the Osbat al-Ansar spokesperson Sheikh Abu Sharif Akel, Hamas official Ahmad Abdel-Hadi, Ansar Allah commander Maher Oueid, and Khaled Shayeb, an official at the Palestinian national security.

They agreed that members would come from the various major factions of the camp. The Fatah Movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization will provide 75 of the troops, 40 will be from the Palestinian Coalition Forces, 25 from the Palestinian Islamist forces and 10 from Ansar Allah.

This larger force will be responsible for containing the security situation in the camp and pursuing those who disturb the peace. Its primary focus will be areas of conflict. Once the situation is fully under control, the forces will spread throughout the whole camp, where they’ll be responsible for political and social stability.

The force is being formed as a result of a collective decision by Palestinian factions to quell unrest in the camp, which last week culminated in violent clashes between the followers of Bilal Badr, who led the disbanded Fatah al-Islam group, and supporters of Urduni.

Earlier this month, a Palestinian member of Fatah al-Islam, Alaa Ali Hujeir, was shot in the camp and later died of his wounds. Weeks before, Ali Khalil, one of Badr’s bodyguards, was shot in the head. He too died of his wounds.

Fatah al-Islam has accused the Fatah Movement of being behind the assassination of Hujeir. The Fatah Movement denies any involvement.

Those attacks came in the wake of the murder of Sunni Sheikh Arsan Suleiman in the camp.

After the meeting Saturday, Osbat al-Ansar’s Akel emphasized the importance of maintaining security and peace in the camp.

“This is our final meeting, and afterward, the security plan will be implemented with its new mission,” he said. “The security forces have the full jurisdiction from all the Palestinian and Islamic factions.”

The meeting also decided to assign between $70,000 and $100,000 to help the security forces carry out their work. The amount will then be reduced to $35,000 per month.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 20, 2014, on page 4.

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Summary

A Fatah Movement official Monday escaped an assassination attempt on his life in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, a security source told The Daily Star.

A number of people were given the responsibility of choosing the force's members: Sheikh Jamal Khattab, the spiritual leader of Islamist groups in Ain al-Hilweh, the Osbat al-Ansar spokesperson Sheikh Abu Sharif Akel, Hamas official Ahmad Abdel-Hadi, Ansar Allah commander Maher Oueid, and Khaled Shayeb, an official at the Palestinian national security.

They agreed that members would come from the various major factions of the camp. The Fatah Movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization will provide 75 of the troops, 40 will be from the Palestinian Coalition Forces, 25 from the Palestinian Islamist forces and 10 from Ansar Allah.

This larger force will be responsible for containing the security situation in the camp and pursuing those who disturb the peace.

After the meeting Saturday, Osbat al-Ansar's Akel emphasized the importance of maintaining security and peace in the camp.


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