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PALESTINIAN POLITICS

Hamas’ foreign political bureau chief arrives in Beirut

Hamas’ foreign political bureau chief arrives in Beirut

Khaled Mechaal arrived in Beirut on Wednesday morning. (Credit: Faisal al-Tamimi/AFP)

BEIRUT — The head of Hamas’ political bureau for foreign affairs, Khaled Mechaal, arrived in Beirut on Wednesday morning, three days after armed clashes between Palestinian factions left three dead in the Burj al-Shemali refugee camp in the South Lebanon city of Sur. Sunday’s fighting broke out during the funeral of a Hamas member who was killed in an explosion in the same camp Friday night.

Here’s what we know:

    • Mechaal’s visit to Lebanon is part of the 34th anniversary of the creation of Hamas, L’Orient Today’s correspondent in South Lebanon reported. The Palestinian leader and the delegation accompanying him will be received by several Lebanese officials with whom they will discuss “means to improve the social and humanitarian situation of Palestinians in Lebanon in these difficult circumstances.” Mechaal will also meet with Palestinian leaders to whom he will insist on “civil peace in the Palestinian [refugee] camps” in Lebanon.

    • The visit comes after a rise in tensions in Lebanon between the rival Palestinian parties Hamas and Fatah. Following Sunday’s clashes, Hamas accused the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, which is controlled by Fatah, of having “opened fire in a premeditated way” on the funeral procession. Fatah denied this allegation.

    • The cause of Friday night’s explosion remains unclear, with Hamas refuting reports that the detonation took place in a weapons cache.

    • Relations between these two parties have been strained since 2007, when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip after bloody clashes. Last April, Mechaal, head of Hamas as a whole from 1996 to 2017 and who lives in Qatar, was elected head of its political bureau for foreign affairs, a task in which he is assisted by Moussa Abou Marzouq, a founding member of the organization.

    • According to the UN, Lebanon hosts nearly 200,000 Palestinians, who mostly live in the country’s 12 Palestinian camps, descendants of refugees who fled during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, which the Palestinians refer to as the “nakba” (the catastrophe).

    • The Lebanese state does not have jurisdiction inside most of the Palestinian refugee camps on its territory.


BEIRUT — The head of Hamas’ political bureau for foreign affairs, Khaled Mechaal, arrived in Beirut on Wednesday morning, three days after armed clashes between Palestinian factions left three dead in the Burj al-Shemali refugee camp in the South Lebanon city of Sur. Sunday’s fighting broke out during the funeral of a Hamas member who was killed in an explosion in the same camp Friday...