Lebanon News

Mieh Mieh holds breath after clashes

Hamas members walk past a damaged car in Mieh Mieh, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Palestinian authorities brokered a new cease-fire in the Mieh Mieh Palestinian refugee camp Tuesday, pulling all fighters from streets wrecked by two days of heavy clashes but failing to bring life back to residential areas. After fighting died down overnight, helped by an initial cease-fire, clashes broke out anew at around 10 a.m. Tuesday between Fatah Movement and Ansar Allah militants, with both sides firing rocket-propelled grenades and mortar bombs at each other. Two men, identified as Fatah members, were killed and around 20 more had been wounded since the morning, according to multiple sources.

The Hamas Movement’s political official in Sidon Ayman Shanaa told The Daily Star that a member of the group, 60-year-old Ibrahim Salameh, was taken to a hospital in critical condition after being injured in an explosion from a hand grenade while patrolling the camp in the morning.

The clashes also caused a number of houses and cars to catch fire, damaged electricity and water networks and partially destroyed the headquarters of the joint Palestinian factions, a meeting point of the different parties. Hundreds of families evacuated the camp, and as of Tuesday evening, many had not returned, fearing clashes would reignite.

Tuesday’s cease-fire was announced following a lengthy meeting at the Lebanese Army’s Zogheib military barracks, attended by Ansar Allah Deputy Secretary Maher Oweid, Hamas political official Ahmad Abdel-Hadi, the Palestinian National Security Force’s Lebanon head Gen. Sobhi Abu Arab and the head of Army Intelligence in the south Brig. Gen. Fawzi Hamadeh.

In addition to an immediate end to the fighting, the agreement called for the withdrawal of all armed fighters from the camp’s streets and the deployment of a peacekeeping force from Hamas. Jihad Taha, a deputy political official of Hamas in Lebanon, said the movement was working to fully implement the cease-fire and maintain stability and security in the camp.

The Daily Star joined a tour led by Fatah and Hamas representatives showing Fatah fighters withdrawing from the camp’s streets Tuesday afternoon, with Ansar Allah fighters leaving shortly thereafter.

The accord also called for the establishment of a committee that would carry out daily field monitoring to ensure compliance with the cease-fire, report violations and hold breaching parties accountable.

Following the meeting, the Hamas peacekeeping group, led by Shanaa, headed to Mieh Mieh to confirm the withdrawal of militants from both sides. Fatah and Ansar Allah representatives went over the terms of the agreement and affirmed the need to commit to it during a separate meeting held at Hamas’ office in the camp, a source from the camp told The Daily Star.

The fighting started with a dispute between a Fatah member and an Ansar Allah member that developed into a shootout and devolved into heavy clashes. Fighting Monday left at least six militants and 10 others wounded, a security source said at the time.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 17, 2018, on page 2.

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