BEIRUT / SIDON, Lebanon: The Mieh Mieh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon will soon become free of weapons, a security source told The Daily Star Wednesday, shortly after the Lebanese Army deployed in and around the camp.
“In the near future ... Mieh Mieh will be a Palestinian camp free of weapons, and the Lebanese Army will follow gradual and precautionary measures aimed at implementing this step and withdrawing all sources of tensions,” the source said.
Earlier in the day, the Army deployed at the entrances to the camp as well as at one specific position inside it after Palestinian groups agreed to evacuate from those areas.
The Army’s deployment, which was first attempted Tuesday morning, got held up when members of both the Fatah Movement and the Palestinian National Security Forces in Lebanon refused to evacuate the areas that were set to be taken over by the Army.
Shortly after its deployment resumed Wednesday at the designated sites, the Army detonated a bomb found inside a building near its newly assumed Kifah al-Musallah checkpoint, according to the state-run National News Agency.
The NNA said that the bomb was a remaining weapon used in heavy clashes that took place Oct. 15 between Fatah and Ansar Allah militants. The violence left two Fatah fighters dead and more than 20 wounded before a cease-fire was reached, and caused many families to flee the camp.
Earlier in the day, sources detailed the process of the Army’s deployment, saying it had started at Mieh Mieh’s southwest entrance, adjacent to a center for the joint Palestinian force.
Fatah Movement members also withdrew from the Kifah al-Musallah position near the same entrance and were replaced with Army troops.
A separate Army patrol dispatched into the center of the camp to clean up another building that had been used as a headquarters for the joint Palestinian force, until it was partially burned and damaged in the clashes.
Once the building is restored, the Army will use it as a base.
Troops also spread out along the northern and eastern entrances to the camp, preparing to establish monitoring checkpoints to tighten control over Mieh Mieh’s main flashpoints.
Head of the Palestinian National Security Forces in Lebanon Gen. Sobhi Abu Arab confirmed in a statement that the Army had completed its deployment at the camp’s entrances after the initial obstacles were resolved. He said his forces had handed over its checkpoint at Mieh Mieh’s western entrance to the Army and that it would relocate to a new position.
Abu Arab said that the Army’s operation had been carried out in a “calm and welcoming atmosphere.”
The operation was also welcomed by the Hamas Movement, according to a statement released by its media office in Lebanon.
The statement quoted Jihad Taha, a deputy political official of Hamas in Lebanon, as saying that the group “welcomes the step taken by the Lebanese Army through its dispersal at tension points around the Mieh Mieh camp,” and that Hamas sees the move as “positive, as it will contribute to maintaining stability and security in the camp and its surroundings.”
The Army’s operation was “in line with the steps [Hamas] has taken to maintain a cease-fire,” Taha said, calling for unity among Palestinians and Lebanese in the face of “plans targeting both fronts.”