BEIRUT — Two people were injured when armed clashes erupted Saturday in the Palestinian refugee camp of Beddawi, North Lebanon, L'Orient Today's correspondent reported Saturday. The reasons for the clashes are yet to be confirmed, but are believed to be related to "a personal dispute" between members of the Aaref family, linked to Fateh, and a member of the Arab Front, another faction in the camp.
UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) for Palestine Refugees issued a statement expressing its "deep concern" and calling on "all those responsible to cease these acts immediately" so that civilians could be evacuated.
More than an hour of gunfire
L'Orient Today's correspondent reported that the clashes broke out in the morning and continued into the afternoon. The firefight, which centered in the northern part of the camp, lasted more than an hour and residents were ordered to remain in their homes to avoid injury.
Shops closed and the streets emptied. Houses were damaged and several videos shared on social networks showed gunmen in the streets where ambulances had stopped. Some residents and gunmen from camp factions organized a rally to protest the incidents. Elements of the Palestinian factions in charge of the camp deployed to try to restore calm and order.
In a statement issued in the wake of the incidents, UNRWA expressed its "deep concern over the clashes, which broke out during the day and are continuing." The UN agency added that about 500 students attending classes in an UNRWA school are trapped inside. The Agency called "on all those responsible to stop these acts immediately, so that the students can be evacuated safely," the statement said.
At the end of the day, a tense calm reigned in the camp, L'Orient Today's correspondent reported, while the camp's various Palestinian factions held a security meeting.
This kind of armed confrontation is not uncommon in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps, where the Lebanese Army has no official authority under an agreement that leaves camp management to Palestinian factions. Last March, Saida's Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp saw a rise in tensions, triggered by the murder of a young Fatah militiaman.
Reporting contributed by Michel Hallak