West Asia

Hamas members reportedly killed at Palestinian camp in Lebanon

Published : December 13, 2021 15:09 IST

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 December 12, 2021. Photo: Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP

Islamist group Hamas has blamed rival secular movement Fatah for the killings, which occurred at a funeral procession.

Three members of the Islamist group Hamas died on December 12 in southern Lebanon after shooting broke out at a funeral procession in a Palestinian refugee camp, the militant organization claimed. Hamas blamed the secular Fatah movement for the deaths at the Burj al-Shemali camp, an allegation which the rival Palestinian group rejected. The Lebanese army arrested a Palestinian man in connection with the shooting. The shooting occurred as Palestinians went to vote for Fatah and Hamas-affiliated candidates in West Bank elections on December 12.

What do we know so far?

Islamist Hamas mourners were marching through the Palestinian camp near the Lebanese city of Tyre after a member of their group was killed in an explosion on December 10. Hamas blamed the blast on an electrical fault that had ignited oxygen supplies for COVID-19 patients, denying Lebanese military claims it had been an arms depot.

"The fire caused damage to property but the impact was limited," Hamas said. It blackened the walls and shattered the windows of a nearby mosque and killed a man the group identified as Hamza Shahin. Hamas said on December 11 he was "martyred on a jihadist mission." "The funeral procession arrived at the camp cemetery and suddenly there was shooting towards the crowd," a resident of the camp told the AFP news agency. Another resident said that "people fled" as the shooting started.

Hamas waged a 2007 civil war against Fatah in the Gaza Strip which saw the Islamists take over control of the territory, while Fatah stayed in charge of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The rivalry continues to this day, despite peace attempts to heal the rift between the two sides.

Who was responsible?

Hamas official Raafat al-Murra said militants from Fatah "shot at the funeral procession," adding that six other people were wounded. "We hold the Authority's leadership in Ramallah and their security services in Lebanon fully responsible for the crime," Hamas said in a statement. But Talal al-Abedd Kassem, an official from security forces affiliated with Fatah in the Burj al-Shemali camp, said that "the shooter is neither a member of the Fatah movement nor the security forces."

The Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, Ashraf Dabour, told Reuters news agency that the ruling Fatah group "condemned" the shooting. "We have made contacts with Hamas leaders and demanded they wait for the investigation results," Dabour added. The Lebanese army said later that a man had been handed in by Palestinian security forces accused of the crime.

Lebanon officially hosts 192,000 Palestinian refugees in 12 camps within its borders, according to the United Nations Relef and Works Agency (UNRWA). But the Lebanese army does not enter the camps, allowing Palestinian factions to police the areas themselves.

jc/wd (AFP, Reuters)

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor