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Are Palestinians Being Scapegoated Over Army Killings in Lebanon?

By       Message Franklin P. Lamb       (Page 2 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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While a meeting was held between a number of officers including the head of Army Intelligence, Edmond Fadel, with a delegation of Palestinian factions in order to restore calm in the camp there is little confidence that much was achieved except another pledge on behalf of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji to uncover the details of the crime "through a swift investigation that will determine the perpetrators and prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future." Given past experience, few believe the investigation will be serious or even completed.

Compounding these problems is a number of politicians who lack the political will to provide a simple available solution.  Lebanon's Interior Minister on 6/20/12 told Akbar al-Youm news agency that "the disturbances" (army killing of Palestinian civilians) that occurred lately in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein al-Hilweh were not related to what had happened in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp" What happened in the two Palestinian camps has nothing to do with the security situation in Lebanon.  They were just coincidence. The problems inside the camps have been resolved by the Lebanese army."

This gross mischaracterization of what occurred at the camps this past week is inflaming passions even more.  Every 9 year old anywhere in Lebanon knows that the "incident" in Ein el Helwe was a direct and predictable result of the army's killing in Nahr al Bared. What is remarkable is the restraint shown by refugees in the other 10 camps and dozen "gatherings'.

Taking the opposite view from the Interior Minister, the Speaker of Lebanon's Parliament chimed in with the observation that: "The incidents at the Palestinian camps and the targets against the Lebanese army are not coincidence and not innocent and call for concern. A foreign plot is present but there is an internal participation in it," he warned, reiterating that the security incidents from the North to the South are not a coincidence.

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Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn's declaration on 6/20/12 "that attacking Army posts is dangerous and does not serve the interests of the Palestinian brothers at all" raised a question whether he was even aware what had happened at either camp. At least he rejected the foreign plot thesis designed to undermine Lebanese Army accountability.

What is clear is that local politicians will skew the facts to suit their political instincts and are incapable of analyzing the events objectively and that the killings at Nahr al Bared and Ein el Helwe are not the result of the Syrian chaos. It is perhaps remarkable that the camps have to date not exploded into violence while exercising their legitimate rights to protect themselves against those, including the Lebanese army, perceived as killing their children and families.

Were Lebanon politicians sincere in their hand-wringing claims to be seeking a solution to Army attacks on Palestinians they could make an immediate differences by implementing the following:

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-- Conduct a full transparent investigation of the army killings of refugees and amnesty for camp residents who have protested the past week unless it is proved that the refugees committed any crime by exercising their right of free speech.

-Take measures to remove army provocations, insults, and harassments of entering and exiting camp residents that are causing distress to the Palestinians in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and to respect the refugee's dignity and humanity.

-Pull the army from inside Nahr al Bared, where it acknowledges there are no weapons and withdraw to two kilometers from the entrances to the other five camps it surrounds thus removing the likelihood of bored and or malevolent troops harassing camp residents.

-Withdraw military deployment among the residents of the camp. End the army's   system of permits, which refugees are forced to secure in order to enter and exit their camp authorized originally in 1949 by the United Nations.

-End the practice, such as is the case at NAB camp of sending in Mabarrat personnel with every camp visitor to monitor conversations between the visitors and camp residents.

- Immediately order the army to vacate the camps public spaces including Nahr al Bared's graveyard, the football field, and all residential buildings annexed by and now occupied by the army.

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- Release the foreign and domestic aid donated to Nahr al-Bared in order to rebuild the camp, after five years since its needless and vengeful destruction and to stop the media campaigns and fabricated news that are helping in igniting sedition and increasing tension to create "fake instability."

And perhaps most fundamental and crucial:

Take a few hours during a current Parliamentary session to repeal the racist 2001 law outlawing home ownership for Palestinian refugees and grant immediately grant Palestinian refugees the internationally mandated right to work.

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)

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