Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"It’s so easy for someone who has the money and the arms just to take a corner of the camp, hijack it, and just fight with the others." Zaki Chehab

For news of the fighting in the refugee camp in Northern Lebanon, I am following the excellent and Amy Goodman and her guests tell me all sorts of information I am not sure I want to hear - and do not know what to do with - in rush transcripts of broken English and speech made inaudible by gunfire.

I am more than gloomy about this, I am pushing and pushing my brain to take in the horror of this conflict for the refugees 'caught in the crossfire' of the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam. This is a massacre, and people are being shot at directly; they are not just in the line of fire: their homes and their bodies are being targeted in this tiny patch of land allocated to 40,000 stateless Palestinian people.

The fleeing refugees, reports Nicholas Blanford, "say the situation in the camp is extremely [inaudible]. There are many dead under the rubble of bombed-out buildings. They’re all extremely angry and upset with Fatah al-Islam. They say that they’re not Palestinians, that they’re foreigners, and they have nothing to do with them. They say that Fatah al-Islam have been shooting at vehicles trying to leave. And there is a demonstration in the camp now. They’re taking advantage of the ceasefire to come out in the streets -- over 300 people, one woman told us -- to basically demand the Fatah al-Islam to leave, because the Palestinian population in the camp is suffering.[...] There’s been no electricity there since Sunday, when the fighting broke out. People are telling us they’ve run out of food and they’ve run out of water, and they’re hiding in the rubble of their bombed-out houses, praying just for any opportunity to get out. [...] of course, the bulk of the casualties is from the Lebanese army’s shelling of the camp. And it’s been -- it’s quiet now, but it has been very heavy in the past, yesterday, especially yesterday afternoon, when you could watch from the high ground above the camp and see the mortar shells being fired from the Lebanese army positions, exploding from one end of the camp to the other, setting buildings on fire. [...] we’ve been hearing from soldiers on the ground here that the militants are threatening to fire rockets and mortar shells into nearby Tripoli."

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