The refugee camp jihad spreads. By Scheherezade Faramarzi for the Associated Press:
EIN EL-HILWEH CAMP, Lebanon – Violence sparked by a two-week old confrontation between the Lebanese army and al-Qaida inspired militants spread to a second Palestinian refugee camp in the southern part of the country, killing two soldiers, police said Monday.
After sporadic clashes Sunday evening, fighting picked up overnight and resumed
briefly Monday morning as Islamic militants of the Jund al-Sham group fired rocket propelled grenades at the army on the edge of the southern Ein el-Hilweh camp, the largest of 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. The army fired back.
Police said five Lebanese soldiers were wounded in the Ein el-Hilweh clashes.
One Jund al-Sham official was wounded and several houses belonging to members of the group
were burned by army fire, Lebanese security and Palestinian officials said.
Jund al-Sham, which is based in Ein el-Hilweh, has claimed responsibility or been blamed for a number of bombings and gunbattles, mainly in Lebanon and Syria. Syrian officials have portrayed Jund al-Sham, which is Arabic for Soldiers of historic Syria, as the most active militant group in their country. In Lebanon, the militants are believed to number in the dozens.
Back at Ein el-Hilweh, where Jund al-Sham militants are believed to be trying to occupy the army and take the pressure off their Fatah Islam allies, a member of Asbat al-Ansar, another Islamic group that has refused to join the fight and is mediating an end to the confrontation, was killed in the clashes, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to the media.
Asbat al-Ansar, Arabic for the Partisans’ League, is on the U.S. list of terrorist groups.
As usual, the notion that Abbas and his faction are “moderate” is dropped in unquestioningly:
An official with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ moderate Fatah
faction, said Palestinian groups would be meeting to try to ease the tensions at Ein el-
Hilweh, blaming Islamic factions for blocking Fatah from going after Jund al-Sham.
“The camp cannot be taken hostage by 40 gangsters,” said Col. Abu Walid Ashi, a Fatah spokesman at Ein el-Hilweh, referring to the Jund al-Sham militants.
“If they let us, we can finish them off in hours,” he said. But he warned violence could increase if Fatah decided to make a move against the militants.
Similar attempts to reach a compromise have failed to quell the fighting up north at Nahr el-Bared. The Lebanese government has demanded that Fatah Islam surrender, but the militant group’s deputy leader rejected the call in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
“This is not only impossible, this is unthinkable. Our blood is cheaper than
handing over our weapons and surrendering,” Abu Hureira, a Lebanese whose real name is
Shehab al-Qaddour, said Sunday. He also denied the army had made significant progress in
“I am still in the same position since the war began,” Abu Hureira said. “Our
morals are high and the army did not make any advance.”