Fighting among Palestinians in Lebanon Could Be a Harbinger of Things to Come

On Monday, three days of fighting in the Palestinian settlement of Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon came to an end, leaving an estimated nine dead and 40 wounded. It appears that the efforts of Fatah, the PLO faction that governs much of the West Bank, to exert its dominance over its rivals among Lebanese Palestinians had led to a violent backlash from jihadist groups. A ceasefire was brokered with the help of Hizballah, the Iran-backed terrorist group that exerts de-facto control over the country. Benny Avni explains:

The clash at Ein el-Hilweh, on the edges of the Lebanese city of Sidon, is part of tensions between factions vying for power inside one of twelve UN-run Palestinian enclosures in Lebanon. While defined as refugee camps, they are in fact midsized, autonomous cities wallowing in poverty, anger, and militancy. The escalation of tensions between a faction loyal to the Ramallah-based Fatah and armed Islamic fundamentalists worries the Beirut leadership, which is already struggling to address Lebanon’s multiple crises. It could also be a harbinger of infighting among Palestinians elsewhere, including in the West Bank.

The Lebanese army and its law-enforcement officials rarely enter the Palestinian enclaves, where the only outside authority is the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which cares for Palestinians residing in Lebanon, as well as some nearly half a million Palestinians who maintain their refugee status in several Arab countries, the West Bank, and Gaza.

In Lebanon, some 200,000 descendants of Arabs who had been relocated during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 are under UNRWA’s care. . . . Palestinians in Lebanese UNRWA-run enclaves are denied citizenship and are barred from working in most professions, and their travel is restricted. Inside, the camps are divided by neighborhoods according to rivaling loyalties—to family, clan, political affiliation, religion, or ideology. Clashes occur regularly, though this weekend’s fire exchange marks an uptick in violence.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Fatah, Lebanon, Palestinian refugees, UNRWA


How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy