Friday, May 25, 2007
Over 15,000 Palestinian refugees, half the population in the Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp outside of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, have fled intense fighting between the Lebanese army and a small militant group which calls itself Fatah al-Islam. The U.S. and Lebanese governments, who reportedly funded such groups late last year and early this year to counter balance the Shi'i parties Hizbu'llah and the secular AMAL along with the party of powerful Maronite ally Michel Aoun, claim that it has links to al-Qa'ida (doesn't everyone these days), which the group denies. According to press reports the majority of Palestinian refugees, Lebanese parties, and Palestinian political leaders support the Lebanese army though increasing civilian casualties, the result of Lebanese shelling of the camp, have resulted in protests.
Over 350,000 Palestinian refugees currently reside in Lebanon. They were forced to flee or are descendants of those forced to flee their homes in 1948 during the war which resulted in the formation of the state of Israel, originally by predominantly European Jews.