Reports & Researches

The Six Days Battle in Ain El Helwe Refugee Camp
20/04/2017

Everything is GONE!

The family of Abdul Ghani was trapped inside the house for 24 hours during the clashes. They were forced to flee under the gunfire. The pain was not confined to the loss of their houses where they lived in for many years, a house full of beautiful family details, a four-storey house inhabited by nine families. The battle also made a great steal, it stole their joy of the wedding of their son Ahmed Abdul Ghani, which was scheduled on Sunday 16 April, 2017, the third day of the clashes. The house was totally burnt, nothing left of it as a human habitable home. It was a house for a groom who would soon start his life, everything was burned with furniture and white clothes he was waiting to wear. Even the feast he prepared, of meat, nothing left of it, to make joy become sadness, and dream to a nightmare, which difficult to get rid of easily.

 

Absence of the official political reference and the presence of de facto references:

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon suffer from a very precarious situation that has made the structure of Palestinian society vulnerable to political and societal diseases. It was the case of large weakness in the performance of the Palestinian official reference (PLO political and service institutions), and the status of legal marginalization, and the state of siege and restrictions imposed by the Lebanese authorities on the Palestinian refugee camps, as well as the dramatic decline of UNRWA and its inability –intentionally or unintentionally- to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees which has had a very negative role in increasing community-based diseases and creating environments of violence and extremism that are difficult to deal with easily.

 As this tough reality continues, national and Islamic phenomena have grown, and have been made a matter of fact, dividing the fractions and weakening every possible force. Cases that claim to be Salafist Islamic movements (with all their extensions and ideologies) have increased, and the split of the Fateh movement is further strengthened by the consolidation of the reformist movement.  Each of these parts has a reference and security area that is difficult to bypass.

 

The de facto references have grown over the official reference, which is weakened day after day. The Palestinian factions tried to find a realistic political reference dealing with all these complexities, but the situation was interrupting its success, or the time was too late to fix it and ends up with armed violence. The recent armed clash between the joint force and Bilal Badr group is an obvious of this weakness.

 

What happened in Al Tiri neighborhood?

Al Tiri neighborhood contains about 440 houses. It has borders: Sirob and Al Nabaa’ road from the east, the main uppermost street from the west, Ras Al Ahmar and Arab Al Zubaid from the north, and Al Suhoon neighborhood from the south. A violent clashes broke out in Ain El Helweh camp on April 7, 2017 Friday night, after the joint force, consisting of Palestinian factions, national and Islamic forces, tried to execute its orders to these forces in order to deploy and center on the main pillars inside the camp. These commands were taken to adjust the security situation and to prevent the violations.

While the security force has already completed its deployment at most of its designated points, it deployed to the last point, which is located near the entrance to the market, close to Blaibel parking and Al-Tiri neighborhood. they was intercepted by an armed group that belongs Bilal Badr Group, but the joint force insisted on the implementation of the decision of the political factions to deploy in the specified place, what made the gunmen of Bilal Badr shoot at the joint force, and wound several people. Therefore, there were violent clashes between the joint force (Fateh's majority) and Bilal Badr group, whose main field is Al-Tiri.

The battle continued for six consecutive days in which various types of weapons were used, including rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and anti-aircraft.

On the other hand, Bilal Badr group, estimated by activists in Ain El-Helweh camp by 30 individuals, managed to confront Fateh movement and move from Al Tiri to other neighborhoods. This could open another battle in the foreseeable future unless the Palestinian faction leaders rectify the critical situation.

The battle of the six days ended with the departure of Bilal Badr and his group from Al-Tiri neighborhood. He became wanted by the Joint Security Force. This was on the security and field level, while on the humanitarian level, the results were disastrous.

Mousa AL Kharbiti…. Bleeding till death:

Mousa Al Kharbiti, a member of "Al Shaa’b” Party, one of the wounded as a result of the fire on the security force by Bilal Badr group. Mousa Al Kharbiti has a good reputation, in fact, he was a resident of al-Tiri, and one of Bilal's neighbors. Kharbiti was bleeding for three hours, his phone was open and he was in contact with his relatives and officials at the time he was extremely bleeding. The ambulance and emergency crews were unable to reach him and save him until he died due to the intensity of the clashes that broke out in the neighborhood and its vicinity.

 

Results:

Over the course of two consecutive days (13 and 14 April 2017), a team from Witness Association conducted field trips in Ain Al Helwe refugee camp in general, Al-Tiri neighborhood, the area of ​​clashes and the market in particular, and concluded that:

 

Human Loss

No

Name

Situation

Date

1

Mousa Khaled Ahmad Al Kharbiti

Joint Security forces/ Al shaa’b party

April 7, 2017

2

Mohammad Ezzat Ibrahim Mousa

Fateh Movement

April 9, 2017

3

Firas Mohammad Issa Balous

Fateh Movement

April 9, 2017

4

Abdul Hakim Ahmad Abdul Karim Alaa Addin (Amer Al Khumaini)

Fateh Movement

April 9, 2017

5

Mamdouh Al Saoui

Civilian

April 9,2017

6

Mohammad Ramzi Mahmoud Zbeidat

Fateh Movement

April 10, 2017

 

Structural Loss

Type of loss

Houses

Stores

 

Total destruction

60

16

Partial destruction

180

35

Burning

31

12

Total

271

63

 

Infrastructure:

Infrastructure in the areas of clashes has been severely affected. According to Witness team and Human Rights reports, including an ICRC report, the water and electricity networks in at least five areas has been damaged. For the electricity grid, the main cables and utility cables that pass through the neighborhood of Al Tiri and feed other neighborhoods have been severely damaged. The drainage there needs urgent maintenance because of the huge damage to the water pipes there.

 

The concept of security squares replaces national neighborhoods:

One of the most serious consequences of the Six-Day Battle is that it has enshrined a very dangerous concept, the concept of security squares. In general, the Palestinian camps are characterized by the names which refer to the names of Palestinian towns and villages. These neighborhoods are mostly inhabited by families that are originally from this village, or the city. In Ain el-Hilweh, for example, there is Saffouriya neighborhood, Ras al-Ahmar neighborhood, the Taitaba neighborhood, Al-Tiri, Hittin, Al Safsaf neighborhood, and so on. With the weakness of the official Palestinian authority and the emergence of existence of real references, each neighborhood constitutes a security square for an Islamic or national group. Bilal Badr lived in the Tiri neighborhood, which for him has become a security square. After the battle, the residents of the Tiri neighborhood, as if they were all subject to accusation and suspicion by Fateh, found it difficult to move to other neighborhoods. This happens with the inhabitants of some neighborhoods as well, where they are provoked by the forces of this neighborhood or that. The six-day battle will devote this dangerous concept, unless real reconciliation takes place.

 

 

Conclusions and Recommendations:

 

1. It is true that there are personal reasons for the battle of the Six Days, but it is also true that stronger objective circumstances are the cause of this battle. Life conditions, marginalization, restrictions, weak official reference, poverty and deprivation all provide fertile conditions for tension and violence.

2. The battle of the six days, which took place in Ain El-Hilweh camp, revealed a very dangerous situation, especially the absence of realistic mentality and the excessive use of force.

3. The Six-Day Battle revealed the ease of problem-making, the ease of use of weapons, regardless of motives and the rights of the local population.

4. The Six-Day Battle revealed that it is difficult to achieve any goal through security treatment without a comprehensive political decision, without taking all the circumstances of Ain al-Hilweh camp into consideration, especially the issue of settling the wanted list, the issue of fighting international terrorism, the issue of the Syrian crisis and the crisis of the Lebanese internal policies.

 

Recommendations:

 

1. We call upon the Lebanese state to humanize its security procedures, not to harass the inhabitants of the camp and to give priority to the humanitarian aspects, and to allow the Palestinian youth and professional qualifications to become more involved in the production process, and that the intervention of the Lebanese state should be positive.

2. We call on the Lebanese media to take responsibility and professionalism with the situation of the camps, away from intimidation, which makes the camps like security hubs and their inhabitants as if they are wanted for justice.

3. Granting full civil rights to the Palestinians, as stipulated in the International Bill of Human Rights and other international instruments, primarily the right to work and ownership, the formation of associations and the right to have the adequate residence.

4. We call upon all Palestinian parties not to allow anyone to tamper with the security and stability of the camp and to support the joint security force in all Palestinian camps.

5. We also call upon the Palestine Liberation Organization, with its national achievements, to take its real role in the care of the Palestinian refugees at all levels, especially the political ones, and to promote their development in the interests of the Palestinians and their human rights.

6. We call upon UNRWA to increase its services to meet the needs of the Palestinian refugees, to involve other international service organizations to provide more support to the Palestinian refugees and to work with the Lebanese authorities to increase the size of the camps.

7. We call upon the UNRWA Agency to establish an emergency fund in case of crisis, away from the traditional budget, to be used in disaster and security emergencies.

8. Palestinian civil society should play a more vital role in reconciliation and compensation.