August 7, 2023 | Flash Brief

Violence Among Palestinians in Lebanon Spurs Travel Advisories

August 7, 2023 | Flash Brief

Violence Among Palestinians in Lebanon Spurs Travel Advisories

Latest Developments

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) joined a growing list of countries on August 6 warning its citizens against traveling to Lebanon in the wake of clashes between Palestinian militant groups in Ayn al-Hilweh, the largest pocket of Palestinians claiming refugee status in the country. The UAE’s announcement follows similar warnings from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The alerts highlight the instability of Lebanon and its Palestinian population, as the country continues to struggle with a lack of a functioning government, a collapsed economy, and control by the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Clashes in Ayn al-Hilweh began on July 30 after a failed assassination attempt by unidentified gunmen on a leader of a Palestinian organization sympathetic to hardline Islamists. According to a Fatah source, the following day, Islamists belonging to the Jund al-Sham militant group ambushed and killed Fatah commander Abu Ashraf al-Armoushi and four of his associates. The successful assassination sparked fierce fighting between Fatah and Islamist groups, resulting in more than a dozen deaths and the displacement of thousands of Palestinian residents. Heavy fighting continued until an August 3 ceasefire.

Expert Analysis

“The chaos in Ayn al-Hilweh is a symptom of a much wider problem. Lebanon is a failed state. Between Hezbollah and the Palestinian factions, there are wide swaths of territory that what remains of the government cannot control. Economically, the country is no longer viable, with untold billions of mounting debt. And three years after the port bombing, we can see how rule of law is nonexistent.”
Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Tehran is desperately searching for ways to respond to Israeli strikes in Syria and thinks it can get Palestinians to respond from Lebanon. Hezbollah has thus received leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas and is helping them take over Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. These actions replicate Hamas’ ejection of the Palestinian Authority (PA) from Gaza in 2007 and constitute a preview of what these Islamists aspire to do in the West Bank.”
Hussain Abdul-Hussain, FDD Research Fellow

School Used as Fortress

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has artificially perpetuated the Palestinian refugee issue through controversial policies and provides services in the refugee camps, applauded the August 3 ceasefire. However, Dorothea Klaus, director of UNRWA in Lebanon, said last week that because militants used an UNRWA school as a fortress, the damage caused during clashes could delay the start of the academic year for approximately 6,000 children.

Kept Apart from Lebanon

Lebanon is home to 12 refugee camps established following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. While few original refugees remain, the camps’ populations have grown to an estimated 250,000 with second, third, and fourth generation offspring. Palestinians in Lebanon face restrictions on their right to work, own property, or obtain Lebanese citizenship. The camps are policed and governed by Palestinian factions. At Ayn al-Hilweh, the Lebanese Armed Forces controls the movement of people and materials, with checkpoints in a wall surrounding the camp. UNRWA has prolonged the Palestinian refugee crisis by conferring refugee status on multiple generations of Palestinians who are not actual refugees — a departure from UN practice in other conflicts.

Biden Administration Failing to Reform U.N.’s Palestinian Refugee Agency,” by David May

Palestinian Terrorist Groups Continue to Build Tunnels Under UNRWA Schools,” FDD Flash Brief

UNRWA’s Palestinian Refugees,” FDD’s Foreign Podicy Podcast


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Lebanon Palestinian Politics