BEIRUT: A senior official of the Hamas Movement said Tuesday his group and other Palestinian factions were determined to foil attempts aimed at destabilizing the refugee camps in Lebanon.
The remarks by Ali Barakeh, Hamas’ representative in Lebanon, came a day after Palestinian sources told The Daily Star that extremist groups might be planning to carry out terror attacks inside Lebanon. A senior Lebanese security source informed Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Dabbour and Fatah Secretary Fathi Abu Aardat that U.N. peacekeepers had intercepted calls suggesting groups were planning to attack from inside camps in Lebanon, the sources said.
The security situation in the Palestinian camps following the influx of thousands of Palestinian refugees fleeing from war-torn Syria to Lebanon and the refugees’ conditions were discussed during a meeting Tuesday between a Hamas delegation led by Barakeh and Sidon’s Deputy Bahiya Hariri at the latter’s residence in the southern village of Majdalyoun.
The participants underlined the importance of ensuring stability and calm in the Palestinian camps and cooperation with Lebanese authorities in order to alleviate the suffering of the families. They also urged international organizations, namely UNRWA, to provide humanitarian aid to more than 10,000 Palestinians who were forced to leave the Yarmouk camp in Damascus last month following fierce fighting between government forces and rebel groups.
“We stressed the need to continue contacts in order to prevent any security violation in Lebanon’s camps. We affirmed that the Palestinian camps are keen on the country’s stability,” Barakeh said after the meeting.
“Also, the Hamas Movement and Palestinian national and Muslim factions are concerned for calm and stability to continue in the camps. We consider that the country’s stability and the camps’ stability will serve the Palestinian cause,” he said. “We also confirm that the Palestinians will always stand on the side of Lebanon’s unity, security and stability.”
Noting that some 4,000 Palestinian families have fled from camps in Syria to Lebanon, Barakeh urged the Lebanese government and UNRWA to meet the refugees’ demands, including providing them with temporary shelter until they are able to return to their homes in Syria.
Also Tuesday, Palestinian Interior Minister Saeed Abu Ali met separately with Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati to discuss bilateral relations and the repercussions of the 22-month-old conflict in Syria on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Speaking after meeting Mikati at the Grand Serail, Abu Ali said: “It was an occasion to brief the prime minister on developments of the situation in Palestine in light of our endeavors to turn the Palestinian state into reality following the international recognition of it, especially in these difficult circumstances which all of us are facing amid the challenges sweeping across the region and their consequences.”