Palestinian Official Killed In Lebanon Highlights Palestinians’ Vulnerabilty To Violence

On August 8, Palestinian officials reported that a Palestinian security officer, Said Alaadin, was killed by unknown assailants in a refugee camp, Ain el-Hilweh, in southern Lebanon, according to Reuters.

Alaadin was an officer in the Fatah party, with the responsibility of liaising between Fatah and Lebanese security forces according to I24 News. Ain el-Hilweh, like 11 other Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, is outside of the jurisdiction of Lebanese security services, making security of the camps the responsibility of the refugees themselves. Reuters reported that in recent years, the camp had seen sporadic incidents between those allied with the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Sunni Islamist factions.

In recent weeks, the larger Palestinian-Israeli conflict has come back into the news, with Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip killing at least 44, according to Reuters. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, in a televised statement on August 7, said that in regards to the bombardment, “all our goals were achieved. The entire senior command of Islamic Jihad in Gaza was successfully eliminated in three days.”

Additionally,  a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza came into effect just hours before the killing of Said Alaadin. Speaking to the United Nations Security Council on the same day, U.N. Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said that, “The ceasefire is fragile. Any resumption of hostilities will only have devastating consequences for Palestinians and Israelis and make any political progress on key issues elusive,” according to Reuters.

PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhala also declared the ceasefire “a victory”, in a news conference aired on pro-Iranian media Al Mayadeen on August 7.

While a ceasefire in Gaza, and the end to violence across Palestine, is a necessity, it is impossible for a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to occur when Israel continues to occupy Palestine past the borders outlined in the 1947 United Nations partition plan and continues to deny Palestinian refugees – over 30,000 first-generation refugees, and 5 million of their descendants, according to the U.S. State Department – the right of return that they are guaranteed by United Nations Resolution 194. Israel must, at the very least, remove its settlements in Palestine and respect the 1947 borders drawn by the United Nations. Palestinians and Israelis both have the right to live their lives free of violence, which is impossible while Israel continues to pursue policies of settler colonization in Palestine.

Ain el-Hilweh, which is Lebanon’s largest refugee camp, has more than 54,000 people registered, according to I24 News. While most are Palestinian, thousands also come from Lebanon’s northern neighbor, Syria. According to the United Nations, over 450,000 Palestinian refugees currently reside in Lebanon. Due to Lebanon’s complex consociational government system, it is very difficult for Palestinian refugees to obtain Lebanese citizenship or legal residency due to fears of upsetting the demographic balance of the state, according to Minority Rights. The main phase of the Israel-Palestine conflict began in 1948, when the first Arab-Israeli war began with the declaration of independence by Israel, and has resulted in more than 90,000 deaths and over 5 million Palestinian refugees, according to the United Nations.

In conclusion, the murder of Said Alaadin further demonstrates the vulnerability of Palestinian refugees to violence, whether in Palestine or outside of its borders. Denied their homes in Palestine and Israel, and denied the same rights as citizens in their countries of residence, such as Lebanon, Palestinians remain in a precarious legal limbo. As a basis for permanent peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict, Israel must, at the least, refrain from further violence in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank, as well as respect the terms of the 1947 partition of Palestine and remove its settlements from the West Bank.