SIDON, Lebanon: Clashes broke out again Friday evening at the Mieh Mieh Palestinian refugee camp after intermittent periods of calm and sporadic fighting following a cease-fire agreement between the sparring groups.
Palestinian security sources said the Ansar Allah secretary-general Jamal Suleiman’s residence is surrounded by Fatah fighters as clashes are expected to continue.
Schools in Sidon announced that they will remain closed Saturday.
The earlier clashes, which broke out just after 2 p.m., were brief but heavy. They took place between the Fatah Movement and Hezbollah-affiliated Ansar Allah – another episode in the nearly two weeks of deadly fighting between the groups.
The sporadic clashes broke the cease-fire between the groups, which was reached late Thursday evening with the help of Speaker Nabih Berri and was solidified early Friday afternoon during a meeting brokered by Hezbollah.
According to a statement from Hezbollah, delegations from Fatah and Ansar Allah met with Hezbollah official Hasan Hoballah, the delegate responsible for handling the party’s Palestinian relations, at Hezbollah’s political headquarters in Beirut.
By the end of the meeting, the parties affirmed the cease-fire and agreed that any person suspected of causing trouble in Palestinian refugee camps would be handed over to the Lebanese security agencies and that Mieh Mieh would be restored to normal.
Nevertheless, just after 2 p.m., the clashes again broke out.
Palestinian security sources later told The Daily Star that efforts had been exerted by mainly Fatah members to quickly deescalate the situation.
On Friday morning, the atmosphere in Mieh Mieh was calm after the clashes had paralyzed aspects of life in the city of Sidon and its surrounding villages.
After the brief clashes broke out in the afternoon, the residents near the camp expressed their anger and frustration with the situation and called for the Palestinian factions to maintain calm.
This most recent outbreak of violence took place just after President Michel Aoun and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh underscored the importance of maintaining security in the Palestinian refugee camps.
The two spoke over the phone in response to another set of clashes that had occurred Thursday and resulted in the deaths of three people and the wounding of another six. The night was peppered with sporadic gunfire punctuated by the sounds of rocket-propelled grenades.
According to Palestinian security forces, those killed were two affiliates of Fatah and one of Ansar Allah; two of those wounded were Army soldiers but the identities of the others were not disclosed.
In the phone conversation, Aoun and Haniyeh “agreed that what is happening in Mieh Mieh should stop at the soonest time possible and that it didn’t serve the Palestinian cause,” according to a statement from Hamas.
Haniyeh went on to inform Aoun of the keenness of the Palestinians in Lebanon on maintaining the brotherly relationship between the two countries. He also reassured the president that Lebanon’s security situation and its safety are priorities for the Palestinians.