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Lebanon: Can latest truce calm tensions in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian camp?

The fighting between rival factions inside Ain al-Hilweh had been ongoing for five days, with the Lebanese army threatening to take action after some of its military bases were hit by rockets.

BEIRUT — Another truce halted fighting in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp Monday afternoon, pausing the violence that had resumed after a weekend cease-fire collapsed.

The announcement came after a meeting between the interim director of Lebanon’s General Security, Elias Baissari, and representatives of the Joint Palestinian Action Committee of all Palestinian factions in Lebanon to discuss the outbreak of violence in the camp.

Committee member Ali Faisal told local reporters after the meeting that the attendees had agreed to another cease-fire in the camp and vowed to hand over to the General Security wanted individuals holed up there.

Violence between rival Palestinian factions broke out on Thursday evening, nearly a month after similar clashes erupted when Fatah accused Islamist groups of assassinating one of its leaders in the camp on July 30.

A cease-fire was announced on Saturday following a meeting between representatives of the PLO and the Hamas movement. But soon after the announcement, clashes returned to the camp. The commander of Fatah's Palestinian National Security in Lebanon's Sidon area, Abu Iyad Shaalan, accused Islamist groups of violating the truce and held them responsible for the violence in the camp.

“The Fatah movement and the Palestinian National Security forces are fully prepared to confront all terror attempts that affect the security and stability of the camp,” Shaalan added in a Sunday statement carried by the Palestinian Wafa news agency.

At least six people have been killed in the renewed fighting, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent's Lebanon branch, while more than 60 others were injured.

The violence has pushed area residents to flee their homes. The Lebanese army said late on Sunday that three rockets from Ain al-Hilweh fell on two military bases in the camp’s surroundings and left five soldiers injured, including one in critical condition.

“The army warns once again the concerned parties inside the camp of the consequences of endangering the military bases and their members. The army stresses that it will take the appropriate measures,” the military added in a statement posted on Twitter.

In response, the Lebanese army deployed reinforcements around Ain al-Hilweh, the local LBCI news channel reported.

On Monday, army chief Joseph Aoun hosted the Palestinian ambassador to Beirut, Ashraf Dabbour, and Fatah Secretary-General in Lebanon and PLO representative Fathi Abu al-Ardat. They discussed the latest developments in Ain al-Hilweh, the official National News Agency reported, without giving any details.

Under the Cairo Agreement signed between the PLO and a Lebanese delegation in 1969, Lebanon’s army has no jurisdiction inside Palestinian camps. Security there is handled by a joint committee representing all Palestinian factions. The refugee camps have become a hotbed for radicalism and increased militancy with the entry of heavy arms.

Ain al-Hilweh, which hosts around 54,000 registered refugees, is the largest among the 12 refugee camps spread across Lebanon. Ain al-Hilweh in particular has become a safe haven for fugitives wanted by Lebanese authorities. The arrival of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria has led to the emergence of more rival groups inside the camp, which has been the scene of recurrent fighting in recent years.

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