At 06:40hrs on August 14, one hour and twenty minutes before the cessation of hostilities in Lebanon, Israeli aircraft targeted a Palestinian faction in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in Saida with two missiles. The destructive power of the missiles, fired into a civilian residential area, killed UNRWA staff member Mr. Abdel Saghir. Mr. Saghir, 48, had begun his shift as a sanitation labourer ten minutes earlier. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) strongly condemns the killing of Mr. Saghir. He was carrying out his duties in the most difficult of circumstances, helping to prevent outbreaks of disease in the camp where Palestine refugees and displaced Lebanese have been largely trapped by the conflict of the last month. That he was killed just as hostilities were about to cease makes his death particularly senseless and tragic.
Richard Cook, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, expressed the Agency’s sadness at the loss of Mr. Saghir and offered his condolences to his family. Mr. Cook said: “There can be no justification for firing two missiles into a densely populated civilian refugee camp whose residents have taken no part whatsoever in the recent conflict. It shows a total disregard for innocent lives and the obligations of international humanitarian law. It was a matter of chance that in such a crowded camp there were not more deaths and injuries.”
In addition to the death of Mr. Saghir, who had worked for UNRWA for 21 years, three refugees were injured by the explosions and a number of refugee shelters were damaged. Ein el-Hilweh is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. It has a population of over 47,000 people crammed into an area of just 0.5 square km. It is the third time the area has been hit. On 9 August, two people, one a child, were killed when shells were fired from an Israeli gunboat at the vicinity of the camp.