SIDON, Lebanon: The Hamas Movement Wednesday expressed support for the elite Palestinian security force to be established in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh along with willingness to cooperate with the Army’s plan to enter the nearby Taamir area.
“A security force of 150 members will be formed in the Ain al-Hilweh camp and will be in charge of restoring security,” Hamas representative in Lebanon Ali Baraki told reporters at a news conference held at Al-Arabi restaurant in Sidon.
“We in the Hamas Movement will participate in the security plan for Ain al-Hilweh camp, and we will provide it with our political, financial and personnel support,” he said.
The conference was attended by Hamas’ chief media officer in Lebanon, as well as the group’s two political representatives in Ain al-Hilweh and Sidon.
The security initiative was launched on March 28, and the formation of the new forces was preceded by the creation of two political and security committees, Baraki said.
The formation of the new security force was supported by General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.
Ibrahim urged Palestinian factions Tuesday to hasten the process and avoid delays.
The idea to create a unified security force comprised of all major Palestinian factions in Ain al-Hilweh was prompted by a recent series of security incidents in the camp, notably the assassination attempt on Fatah Movement official Talal al-Urduni Monday.
Baraki said Hamas was ready to collaborate with the Army for “any arrangements in the camp’s surroundings,” referring to Taamir.
“The Lebanese Army does not intend to enter the camp, rather it is acknowledging the responsibility of the Palestinian factions to be in charge of the camp’s security,” he added.
On Jan. 26, 2007, the Army deployed troops in one section of the Taamir neighborhood where the majority of residents are Lebanese. The remaining area overlaps with the camp, which has been under Palestinian factions’ control for decades.
In order for the Army to deploy in the neighborhood, only the roads linking Ain al-Hilweh to the Tawarie section of Taamir would remain open, as the the headquarters of the Usbat al-Ansar Islamist group are located there, Baraki added.
Usbat al-Ansar is fully collaborating with the security plan.
Regarding the Palestinian initiative, which Palestinian secular and Islamist factions launched in March to maintain security in the camp and distance them from turmoil in Lebanon, Baraki said that “90 percent of the factions in Ain al-Hilweh support the initiative and refuse any internal fighting.”
In this vein, Baraki stressed the intention of the elite force to stop “any side who is messing with Palestinian security,” noting that perpetrators were well-known and “they work according to foreign agendas ... not having any Palestinian popular support.”
Baraki said that according to the initiative, the camp’s security falls under the responsibility of the Palestinian groups alone, and new factions that recently entered the camp had not been invited to stay.
He added that the media was exaggerating incidents inside the camp. “We admit that the situation in the camp is worrying, but it is not as dangerous as some people pretend, and it is still under control.”
“[All] events are taking place within 150 meters of Al-Fawqani Street, and this area will be given priority in the security plan,” he said.
Baraki also touched on the issue of restricted entry for Palestinian refugees from Syria, asking that the government “reconsider its decision,” referring to the recent policy announced by Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk.
The policy denies entry to Palestinians from Syria without an authorized entry permit from General Security, a residency of one to three years or an exit and return permit.
However, Baraki said that Ibrahim had promised him no Palestinian refugees coming from Syria would be deported and that the 50,000 who were already residing in Lebanon would be treated well.
Asked about his views on the visit Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai plans to make to occupied Jerusalem later this week, he said: “We refuse any visit by any Arab political or religious figure to occupied Palestine as long as the occupation remains.”