BEIRUT — A precarious calm reigned in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near Saida, South Lebanon, after tensions rose a notch on Tuesday afternoon in the wake of a cease-fire announced by Lebanese General Security.
"Our forces are once again respecting the cease-fire after having repelled an attack in the al-Tiri district," the Fatah movement announced, while asserting that it would "continue to fight against any terrorist group."
Tuesday's clashes pitted Fatah against the "Muslim Youth" and Jund al-Sham groups in the al-Tiri district, Ras al-Ahmar, Hatine, Baraksat and Safsaf fronts. Stray bullets hit several neighborhoods near the camp. On Tuesday evening, a precarious calm prevailed.
Meanwhile, the president of the Lebanese University in Saida, Bassam Bedran, announced that the university's branches in the city will be closed on Wednesday.
The governor of South Lebanon also said that Saida's governmental Serail will remain closed on Wednesday to ensure the safety of employees and citizens.
Earlier in the day, eight minor cease-fire violations were recorded. Palestinian sources reported an exchange of fire and grenades. Sporadic firing was heard in the Hatine neighborhood and a rocket explosion was reported. Camp residents called for the removal of rockets that failed to explode near their homes.
Early this afternoon, a Palestinian source told L'Orient-Le Jour that the "Muslim Youth" and Jund al-Cham groups were unlikely to hand over the seven people accused of killing Abu Ashraf al-Armoushi, head of security in the Fatah-affiliated camp, last July, noting that an eighth suspect was seriously wounded on Monday during the clashes.
Fatah demands the handing over of suspects as a condition to end the fighting, this source added.
For its part, the Nasserite People's Organization announced that a meeting took place on Tuesday between PLO executive committee member Azzam Ahmad, MP Oussama Saad, Palestinian ambassador Achraf Dabbour, and PLO Secretary-General Fathi Abou Aardate.
Fatah representatives were also present at the meeting. The participants "discussed the latest developments in the camp and the need to hand over those accused of the assassination of Abu Ashraf al-Armoushi and his companions to the Lebanese judiciary," according to the Nasserite Popular Organization's press release.
Later on Tuesday evening, Hamas and Fatah met at the Palestinian Embassy in Beirut, to discuss the establishment of a lasting ceasefire in the camp, according to Palestinian sources.
Fatah was represented at the meeting by a delegation headed by Azzam el-Ahmad, a member of the Fatah central committee who arrived in Beirut yesterday. Hamas vice-president Moussa Abou Marzouk, who was dispatched to Lebanon to try to handle the situation, also took part in the meeting.
The most recent wave of violence in Ain al-Hilweh began on Thursday. A cease-fire was agreed the following day, but quickly broke down.
A second agreement was reached on Monday following a meeting between the Joint Palestinian Action Committee at the invitation of the acting director of General Security, Gen. Elias Baissari, and in the presence of the head of the Palestinian-Lebanese Dialogue Committee, Bassel al-Hassan.