At least two people have been killed in renewed clashes among Palestinian factions in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon as a ceasefire agreement agreed earlier was not honoured by the rival sides, state media reported.
One person was killed in the fighting inside the Ein el-Hilweh camp and another was killed by a stray bullet outside the camp, National News Agency (NNA) said on Saturday, adding that several people were also wounded outside the camp by stray bullets.
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The sound of heavy machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades echoed throughout the camp and its outskirts, witnesses told dpa news agency.
The clashes, which erupted on Saturday inside Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp pitted members of the mainstream Fatah Movement and a Palestinian armed group calling itself Muslim Youth.
Reporting from outside the Ein el-Hilweh camp on Saturday, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said neither side is backing down in the deadly confrontation.
“Efforts to end the fighting have so far failed. Ceasefire agreements have broken down time and time again. The Fatah Movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is at war with a number of armed groups that call themselves the Muslim Youth,” Khodr said.
“Fatah is demanding that the Muslim Youth hand over eight suspects believed to be responsible for assassinating one of its senior commanders. They are also demanding that the Muslim Youth vacate positions that they have set up in UN-run schools inside the camp so that the academic school year can begin. So far, the Muslim Youth is refusing to do that,” she added.
A public hospital which is located on the outskirts of the camp had to transfer all its patients to other facilities in the port city of Sidon because it was hit by several stray bullets.
‘Does not serve the Palestinian cause’
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati discussed with President Abbas the volatile situation in an attempt to end the fighting.
Mikati called for an end to the fighting saying that what is happening in Ein el-Hilweh “does not serve the Palestinian cause and is harmful to the Lebanese state”.
The Lebanese army said in a statement that it is taking measures, including contacting several sides, to work on ending the clashes. It also called on people to avoid getting close to areas of fighting.
The Ein el-Hilweh camp witnessed heavy clashes at the end of July following the assassination of Fatah commander Mohammad “Abu Ashraf” al-Armoushi and several of his aides.
The fighting at that time resulted in the deaths of 13 people.
Ein el-Hilweh is home to approximately 80,000 people, most are Palestinian refugees from the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 and their descendants.
Palestinians from Syria have also arrived because of the war in the neighbouring country. There are some 12 camps hosting Palestinian refugees across Lebanon.