Clashes continued for a third day in a Palestinian camp in Lebanon on Monday between members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group and Islamist factions there.
A Lebanese army spokesperson said the death toll from the fighting in Ein el-Hilweh camp had reached six, although some reports have given higher figures. Two soldiers stationed outside the camp were lightly wounded, Col. Fadi Abou Eid said.
Despite attempts by Lebanese parties and some of the Palestinian factions to broker a cease-fire, “the shooting and shelling have not stopped in the camp,” said Adnan Rifai, a member of the popular committee that serves as a governing body in the camp. The Lebanese army mans a checkpoint outside and typically does not enter the camp, which is under the control of the Palestinian factions.
The clashes erupted after Islamic militants shot and killed Abu Ashraf al Armoushi, a Palestinian military general from the Fatah group and three others with him, as they were walking through a parking lot, according to another Palestinian. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
On Saturday, an unknown gunman tried to kill militant Mahmoud Khalil but instead fatally shot his companion.
Later on Sunday, Palestinian factions said in a joint statement that they had agreed to a cease-fire during a mediation meeting hosted by the Lebanese Shiite Amal movement and the Iran-backed Hezbollah group in the city Sidon. But the cease-fire did not hold.
Some residents of the city's neighborhoods near the camp, fled their homes as stray bullets hit buildings and shattered windows and storefronts. The public Sidon General Hospital evacuated its staff and patients.
A statement made by the Fatah organization, condemned the killing of its security official, saying the attack was part of a “bloody scheme that targets the security and stability of our camps.” It vowed to hold the “perpetrators accountable.”
Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas both issued statements decrying the violence and Lebanese lawmaker Osama Saad, who represents the Sidon area where the camp is located, said that officials were “making extraordinary efforts to find serious, effective, lasting and stable solutions to the situation inside the camp.”
Saad said he and other Lebanese officials and security forces would meet with the Palestinian factions on Monday to push for a cease-fire.