[Imc-beirut] Daily Star: Army beefs up security at Ain al-Hilweh

Stefan Christoff christoff at resist.ca
Sun Jul 24 02:29:42 PDT 2005

Army beefs up security at Ain al-Hilweh

By Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star staff
Saturday, July 23rd, 2005


SIDON: For the first time in several years the Lebanese Army has stepped up its 
security measures at the four entrances to the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian 
refugee camp, with all traffic subject to thorough inspection. The shift in the 
manner in which the army handles the camp has raised many questions, as army 
posts at the camp's entrances have reinstated the long abandoned practice of 
recording the names of those entering and exiting the camp during the day in 
the event an incident occurs during the night.

The increased security measures have resulted in long traffic jams and angered 
those trying to enter the camp.

Some sources claimed the army was carrying out a "security day," while others 
said they were precautionary measures related to the arrival of U.S. Secretary 
of State Condoleezza Rice in Beirut Friday in accordance with a U.S. demand to 
increase the level of security in locations sheltering "wanted people."

Security sources attributed the beefed up army presence to information attained 
regarding a possible attempt by wanted persons coming from Iraq to enter the 
camp. Some men in the camp have been accused of secretly leaving for Iraq to 
fight against U.S. forces. But this has not been proven and no one from the 
camp has been announced a "martyr" killed in Iraq.

Ain al-Hilweh is somewhat of an anomaly as many persons officially "wanted" by 
the Lebanese judiciary are believed to have taken refuge inside the camp, 
particularly following the Dinnieh clashes in 2000.

Yet other sources said the measures were the result of Defense Minister Elias 
Murr's allegation that "terrorist" groups in one of the country's 12 refugee 
camps were behind his attempted murder earlier this month.

During a broadcast of the "Kalam an-Nas" (People's Talk) talk show aired 
Thursday, Murr said he had obtained information between February and March 
regarding a plan to murder him, and he now possessed "names and details" of 
those responsible.

He said: "The people behind my assassination attempt can be found in one of the 
Palestinian camps, and they prepared the operation there."

The senior Fatah commander in Ain al-Hilweh, Munir Maqdah, replied to Murr's 
accusations, asking: "Why weren't Palestinian forces notified of this 
information, and why do they insist on accusing Palestinian camps?

"We are ready to coordinate with the Lebanese state and officials in any case. 
We call for a serious and calm dialogue with the Lebanese authorities in order 
to organize the Palestinian presence in Lebanon."

Maqdah continued: "We do not need special or general amnesty before organizing 
this presence in order not to be accused or condemned again."

He also warned against having the Lebanese authorities "paraded behind Rice's 
instructions," adding the secretary of state was in Beirut to exert pressure 
for the implementation of 1559 and to "disarm the resistance and Palestinian 

According to Maqdah, any increased pressure for the resolution's implementation 
would only lead to further conflict between Lebanese parties.

He said: "We are in favor of implementing international resolutions, but 
implementation should not be selective."

Maqdah calling for the implementation of resolutions 194, 224 and 228, which 
all pertain to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying only if previous 
resolutions were respected would the international community have "the right to 
talk about implementing Resolution 1559."


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