Thursday, May 24, 2007
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Lebanon, 24 May 2007
".......EI: Palestinian refugees fleeing from Nahr al-Bared camp have been quoted in press reports saying that Fath al-Islam militants had infilitrated into the camp over the past year, that they were very separate and didn't have much contact with the camp residents except to condemn them for smoking, or playing music, or putting up posters. One of the things a refugee witness remarked on was that the camp is guarded on all sides by the Lebanese army. He wondered how these militants got in noting that they didn't drop in from the sky. How would you answer that question?
ABUKHALIL: I think it is certainly suspicious how all these people came into Lebanon, and all indications are that they came into Lebanon legally. We are not talking about infiltrations like those the American media talk about in Iraq. So they came to Lebanon with their passports, came through port entrances controlled by the Lebanese security forces and army and settled in those camps, and as you rightly indicated all these camps are under watch by the Lebanese army.
In an interview on Al-Arabiya television on May 23, the Lebanese defense minister, Ilyas Murr, stated that of the several dozen fighters killed in the battles, not a single a fighter is identified as Palestinian. He said they are mostly Lebanese, Saudi, Yemeni, Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan and so on.....
EI: What has been the reaction to these events Lebanon and are any groups or parties condemning the bombardment of Nahr al-Bared camp?
ABUKHALIL: As far as reaction in Lebanon this is one of the most painful elements of this story at the personal level. I have never felt more isolation as someone who speaks out on Palestine as I have felt in the past few days. There is an overwhelming, unanimous competition by people and organizations to rally behind the Lebanese army and to pay tribute to the troops. Not a single political party in Lebanon has spoken out, none, against the indiscriminate shelling of the refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. Hizbullah has taken a position in support of the army, as has the Lebanese Communist Party, and other organizations. Of course we didn't expect anything different from the March 14 movement, but among the opposition it has been a competition of who can show more support. General 'Awn, the main Christian opposition leader has been totally, unconditionally supportive of the Lebanese army and its resort to what is called the "decisive military option" -- which means to allow the Lebanese army to enter or invade the camps......
EI: The Lebanese government would certainly respond to you that they are not targeting the residents of the camp and they have even made statements that they understand that the group that they are targeting is alien to the Palestinians in Lebanon.
ABUKHALIL: What is so ironic is yes, they said all that and they said more. They used the same words uttered by the Israelis when they bombed the refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. It's the same language the US uses in Afghanistan and Iraq: 'They are hiding behind civilians. They are using civilians as human shields. Hitting civilians is a mistake, the army cares about the civilian population.' All this propaganda of collateral damage is being used by the government.
The Palestinians are also weak regionally and internationally. There is no support for them among Arab governments which explains why the Lebanese government was not only willing and able to do what it did, but yesterday the official statement of the Arab League not only offered support and expressed "satisfaction" to use their own language, for what is happening in Lebanon but offered military assistance as a reward for the shelling of the camp......."