Najdeh closes Lebanon nursery after Israeli attack on Ein Hilweh camp

Ein el-Hilweh has been frequently assaulted, particularly between 1982 and 1991, resulting in a high number of casualties and near total destruction of the camp. (Arjan El Fassed)

A Christian Aid partner in Lebanon has suspended work in a nursery it runs for Palestinian refugees after an Israeli missile attack last night. According to media reports, Lebanese and Palestinian officials said an Israeli gunship shelled the Ein el-Hilweh camp on the outskirts of the town of Sidon, south of the capital Beirut, killing at least one person. The Israeli military said the attack was an air strike that targeted a house in the camp used by Hezbollah guerrillas.

Ein el-Hilweh is the largest of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps and is home to about 75,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants who were displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Some 350,000 Palestinians live in refugee camps in Lebanon that have developed over the years into shanty towns.

Kadija Abdelal, who works for Christian Aid partner Najdeh which works with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and has projects in Ein el-Hilweh, said staff and residents were afraid the camp would be bombed again.

‘We have a kindergarten here for 83 children and today we were going to open it up and welcome more children from Lebanese families who have run from the fighting further south and who are also now staying at this camp,’ said Ms Abdelal.

‘But the kindergarten is near where the missile struck and it has been damaged. So we have closed it.’

She said around 25 families who had sought sanctuary at the camp from the fighting further south had run away. ‘No one knows where they have gone,’ she added.

She also said that it is believed that two people died and nine were injured in the attack.

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