Quarterly Updates for (16 Aug 2017 — 15 Nov 2017)

Internal Lebanese politics became the focal point of longstanding regional tensions at the end of the quarter (see “Regional Affairs” below). But before PM Hariri’s unexpected resignation in Riyadh on 11/4, tensions in ‘Ayn al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in the country, again broke out into full-fledged violence.

Earlier in the year, UNRWA had been forced to temporarily suspend (2/25) services in the camp amid weeks of deadly clashes between Fatah security forces and armed Islamists led by Bilal Badr (see JPS 46 [4]). For 4 mos., an uneasy calm held in the camp. Then, on 8/17, armed fighters affiliated with Badr opened fire on a force of joint Lebanese-Palestinian security troops that was established after the previous round of clashes. Six Palestinians were killed and at least 17 were injured in 1 week of fighting (8/17–23), prompting Hamas and Fatah officials to hold an emergency meeting on 8/22. According to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA), there were more talks on a potential cease-fire on 8/23. By the end of that day, however, a “cautious calm” had returned to the camp, with only a few breaches from occasional shelling and bursts of gunfire (NNA, 8/23).

There were no further reports of violence in the camp through the end of the quarter, but there was 1 more noteworthy development: on 11/13, Badr’s brother, Kamal Badr, turned himself into Lebanese armed forces at the s. entrance of the camp. It was unclear why he did so or if his incarceration would have any effect on the unrest in ‘Ayn al-Hilweh.