Four killed in shooting at Palestinian camp in Lebanon

Published December 13, 2021
Fighters take part in a funeral procession for Hamza Ibrahim Shahin, a member of the Hamas movement ruling in the Gaza Strip, in the Burj al-Shamali camp for Palestinian refugees near the southern Lebanese coastal city of Tyre on Sunday. — AFP
Fighters take part in a funeral procession for Hamza Ibrahim Shahin, a member of the Hamas movement ruling in the Gaza Strip, in the Burj al-Shamali camp for Palestinian refugees near the southern Lebanese coastal city of Tyre on Sunday. — AFP

CAIRO: Four people were killed and others were injured in a shooting on Sunday in the Palestinian camp of Burj al-Shemali in Lebanon, two officials of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said and they blamed rival movement Fatah for the bloodshed.

The shootings took place during the funeral of a Hamas supporter who was killed in an explosion on Friday night in the camp in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre.

“Fatah gunmen deliberately opened fire against people taking part in the funeral march,” one Hamas official said, asking not to be named.

There was no immediate response from the office of the Palestinian ambassador in Lebanon to a request for comment about the Hamas allegation.

Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority that exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank, contacted for comment, said they were checking the reports.

Earlier on Sunday, Lebanese state media said two people were killed and seven were injured in a dispute that erupted in the Burj al-Shemali camp.

Hamas said in a statement on Saturday that the blast on Friday night was caused by an electrical fault in a warehouse containing oxygen and gas cylinders for coronavirus patients, as well as detergents and disinfectants.

A number of armed Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the Fatah movement, hold effective control over roughly a dozen Palestinian camps in the country, which Lebanese authorities by custom do not enter.

In another statement, the Hamas group said that explosions that shook a refugee camp in southern Lebanon were caused by an electrical short-circuit in a storage area for oxygen bottles used to treat coronavirus patients.

Later in the day however, a Lebanese security official said that the explosion in the camp was clearly ammunition not oxygen bottles.

Lebanons state-run National News Agency had reported that arms stored for Hamas exploded on Friday in the Burj Shamali camp, killing and injuring a number of people.

A security official also said the explosions caused casualties but did not give a breakdown.

Hamas in a statement described the explosions as an incident adding that a fire in the refugee camp in the southern port city of Tyre caused limited damage. In a later statement, the group said that one of its members, Hamza Chahine, was killed.

It called on its supporters to take part in his funeral on Sunday afternoon at a mosque in the camp.

Hamas said the oxygen bottles and containers of detergents stored at the camp were to be distributed as part of its aid work in the camp.

Hamas condemns the misleading media campaign and the spread of false news that accompanied the incident, the militant group said in its statement. It added that reports about the cause of the blast and the deaths of dozens are baseless.

Immediately after the blasts, Lebanese troops deployed around the camp and briefly prevented people from entering or leaving.

NNA said the state prosecutor in southern Lebanon has asked security agencies and arms experts to inspect the Hamas arms storage site inside the camp.

Lebanon is home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Many live in the 12 refugee camps that are scattered around the small Mediterranean country.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2021

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