Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.
Clashes between Fatah and Islamist factions persisted in Saida’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp despite repeated attempts to broker a ceasefire, leaving at least six people dead and injuring 30 others since Saturday, according to a Palestinian Red Crescent estimate. Among the injured were five Lebanese Army soldiers, whose headquarters near the camp was hit by stray rocket fire. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that civilians were also among the injured, while one of the deaths was caused by a stray bullet outside the conflict zone, where rockets and small gunfire also caused material damage. Officials and local NGOs estimate that 1-2,000 people have fled the camp and taken refuge in nearby mosques and Saida municipal buildings. A Fatah source said the clashes began after they were “targeted by gunfire and rockets from Islamist extremists.” Various sources in the camp told L’Orient Today’s correspondent the fighting is linked to Islamist factions’ refusal to turn in the alleged killers of Fatah-affiliated Ain al-Hilweh security chief Abu Ahmed al-Armoushi and four of his bodyguards — whose slaying in late July sparked days of deadly clashes in the camp.
The caretaker cabinet is scheduled to meet today at 10:30 a.m. to discuss refugee issues and again at 3 p.m. to discuss the 2024 draft budget. The meetings come as caretaker Minister of the Displaced Issam Charafeddine and other ministers for stricter measures against informal crossings from Syria into Lebanon, with the Army reportedly thwarting thousands of people from entering the country in recent weeks. Syrian nationals in Lebanon have faced growing state backlash in recent months amid deportations and heightened anti-refugee sentiment. Meanwhile, the 2024 budget envisions dramatic increases in state expenditures, detailed here by L'Orient Today.
French special envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to arrive in Beirut this evening for yet another round of meetings aimed at ending Lebanon’s nearly one-year presidential vacuum. Le Drian’s newest visit follows about a dozen failed voting sessions by Parliament since last year to vote on a successor to Michel Aoun, whose six-year term as president ended on Oct. 31. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri also called late last month for renewed national dialogue to end the vacuum.
The Cybercrimes Bureau summoned Lynn Cheikh Moussa, managing editor of the Beirut Today news site for a social media post on her private account calling a man accused of sexual abuse and privacy violation an “abuser and predator,” the news outlet reported Thursday. Cheikh Moussa’s post, which, according to Beirut Today’s statement included the accused’s Bumble profile, was no longer accessible as of yesterday. Beirut Today had published an anonymous testimony containing allegations against the accused, which was then removed after he threatened to sue her and Beirut Today. According to Human Rights Watch, between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 7, 2020, the ISF’s Cybercrimes Bureau conducted 4,154 defamation investigations.
The General Directorate of Civil Status on Friday announced an update digitizing the individual and family ekhraj eid (extract of civil registry) format and issuance procedure. According to one of the mukhtars contacted by L'Orient Today, the new decision allows people to request an ekhraj eid without going to the registry center. The ekhraj eid will also include a QR code allowing “anyone concerned to see the validity of the entries,” the directorate’s statement said. The roll-out of electronic ekhraj eid, the statement said, is set to begin as of today, while mukhtars contacted by L’Orient Today said that either the procedure has already begun or would be delayed by one week.
The Lebanese Army on Friday announced that the hinterlands of Arsal and Ras Baalback had been fully de-mined following their occupation by Islamist groups between 2014 and 2017. Lebanese Army chief Gen. Joseph Aoun said the explosive-clearing in Arsal, Ras Baalbeck and Kaa began as soon as the areas were secured “from the hands of the terrorists” in 2017. On that date, jihadists from the Fatah al-Sham Front and Islamic State group were ousted after they were engaged by Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army. Before demining was completed, landmines in the areas caused several deaths and injuries. Demining operations in other parts of Lebanon are ongoing.
Amid social media reports of “individuals posing as collection agents,” state electricity provider Electricité du Liban (EDL) bill collector BUS (Butec Utility Services) urged subscribers to verify the identity of bill collectors, a BUS executive told L’Orient Today. “No specific incidents have been traced back to our customer service department,” the executive said, “but we felt it appropriate to issue this warning as a precautionary measure,” Along with KVA, NEU and Mrad for Trading, Industry and Contracting, BUS is one of the service providers collecting payments for EDL. KVA recently returned to the job after a brief investigation into accusations of meter tampering and neglect.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from the weekend: “Does Hezbollah own air defense weapons?”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz