Lebanon pauses building a wall around Palestinian Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp

The Ain al-Hilweh camp is already blocked off with Lebanese army checkpoints and fences. Reuters
The Ain al-Hilweh camp is already blocked off with Lebanese army checkpoints and fences. Reuters

Al Jazeera – The Lebanese army has “paused” construction of a controversial “security” wall being built around the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh, near the southern port city of Sidon.

While it is unclear whether construction will continue, a military spokesman told Al Jazeera that the army would release a statement in the coming days to “clarify” the reasons behind the decision to build the wall.

The wall, which would be lined with watch towers, began to take shape on Sunday. The decision to execute was taken by Lebanese authorities, who initially cited security measures, in coordination with Palestinian factions that run the camps.

“All the factions met up with the Lebanese brigadier general and decided that this is the best decision for the sake of protecting the camp. We all agreed,” Subhi Abu Arab, a top Fatah security chief in Lebanon, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

While the camp is already blocked off with metal fences and Lebanese army checkpoints, officials said the wall was necessary to control entry of radical armed groups who are fuelling violence within the camps.

Regular clashes between various factions have continuously put civilian refugee lives at risk. Last year, factional fighting displaced thousands and injured tens of residents.

But more than 70,000 Palestinians live inside the camp, many of whom have criticised the wall as Lebanon’s latest act of discrimination against them. Residents inside the camp are comparing it with Israel’s Separation Wall in and around the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

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