• 05 Mar, 2024

About 270,000 Palestinians live in this country. Their history is a history of war, migration, and the struggle for return.

by Simon Speakman Caudal

Palestinians gathered Thursday evening to say goodbye to Saleh al-Arouri, a member of the Hamas Politburo, who was buried in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. Al-Arouri was killed in a drone strike in Beirut, a stronghold of Lebanon's Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas. The Hamas leader has been in Lebanon since 2015 and is one of the tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the country.

The continued flow of Palestinian refugees into Lebanon has created a stateless population of nearly 270,000 living in 12 camps across the country.

It began with the Nakba in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from Palestine at the time of Israel's founding, and has continued since then as resistance leaders and refugees sought refuge from Israeli attacks. But while Lebanon accepted these refugees, they faced systematic discrimination, and the Palestinian community and its leaders lived under the constant threat of Israeli attack.

Who runs the Palestinian camps? Since 1969, Lebanese security forces have been unable to access the camp, and various Palestinian armed groups have provided security.

At times, these armed groups have clashed in their struggle for influence, control, and support for Palestinian communities. The refugee camps remain recruiting grounds for Palestinian armed groups. In early December, Hamas invited people from the camp to join the group.

How many refugees are there? Exact population figures are difficult to calculate.

The 2017 census in Lebanon reports about 170,000 refugees living in Lebanese camps, while UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees, reports that more than 270,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon.

475,000 Palestinians are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon. What are the conditions?

It explains the overcrowding in the camps, the poverty, and the lack of jobs. Most Palestinians can't obtain the identity cards needed to access many jobs or social services. Instead, as Lebanon struggles to maintain a delicate sectarian balance, it relies on UNRWA to provide for many of its daily needs. How old is this camp?

Palestinians immigrated to Lebanon in large numbers for the first time since Israel was founded in 1948. The initial figures were inflated by subsequent arrivals after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which led to Israel's occupation of much larger portions of Palestinian territory. More recently, it has come from people fleeing the war in Syria. Have they always served as bases for Palestinian militant groups?

In the late 1960s, the Palestine Liberation Organization fought Israel on several fronts. He has worked primarily in Jordan, home to approximately 2 million registered refugees, and in Lebanon, where poor conditions, non-existent infrastructure, and poor housing create widespread injustice.

How influential was the PLO in Lebanon? After a series of clashes between the Lebanese army and heavily armed Palestinian militias in 1968 and 1969, the Lebanese army signed an agreement known as the Cairo Accord.

Although the details are closely guarded, the agreement gave the Palestinians autonomy in running the camps and the right to continue their armed struggle in Lebanon. Shortly after the agreement was signed, members of the Palestinian Authority were expelled from Jordan to camps in Lebanon, where they helped fuel a revolt against the king.

Throughout the 1970s, Palestinian Authority leaders and Lebanese factions were repeatedly targeted by Israeli assassination attempts. How deep was the impact?

After participating in the Lebanese Civil War in 1982, the organization was expelled from Lebanon to Tunisia. While in Lebanon, the group gained significant control over southern Lebanon, using protests in refugee camps to create its police force, and the region was later annexed by Israel a few years after the PLO left. . busy.

What does this legacy look like today? Currently, different groups are fighting for control of the camp and political and military influence in Lebanon.

Al-Arouri was Hamas' main interlocutor with Hezbollah and other allied armed groups. At least two senior Hamas military leaders were killed along with him in the January 2 attack. Azzam al-Akra, senior commander of the Qassam Brigades, an armed Hamas unit outside Gaza; and Samir Fendi, commander of the Qassam Brigade in southern Lebanon.