Baddawi Refugee Camp

Ready to return with nothing

It took over three months, but in the end the Lebanese army claimed victory over Fatah al-Islam, the previously unheard of non-Palestinian, al-Qaida-inspired group that had established itself in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. On Tuesday, 4 September 2007, outside the entrance to the destroyed camp the Lebanese army massed together to begin what would be a 10-hour-long parade from Nahr al-Bared to Beirut just over 50 miles away. EI editor Matthew Cassel reports from Lebanon. 

Refugees, again

In June 2006, Dr. Tawfiq Assad stepped out of the seaside Rafiq Hariri airport in Beirut and took a deep breath of the Mediterranean air. It wasn’t home but it was as close to it as he had ever been. Dr. Assad returned to Lebanon to visit family and friends for what he thought would only be a few weeks’ stay. A Palestinian refugee himself, Dr. Assad’s story is not uncommon. His family was forced from their home in Nazareth during the Nakba in 1948 when the Zionist armies invaded to make way for the Jewish state. 

"They see us all as criminals"

Standing at the entrance to Nahr al-Bared Camp a week ago in the still, oppressive heat waiting with Fatme for her sister and her nieces to be evacuated, we watched as two large army trucks emerged from the camp. Though the backs of the trucks were covered with tarpaulin and soldiers forbade the assembled journalists from filming, as the trucks roared by we could see that each contained about thirty men and boys, handcuffed, some blindfolded, most with their heads bent down towards their laps. Caoimhe Butterly describes the experiences of Nahr al-Bared refugees who have been arrested, beaten and humiliated by Lebanese forces. 

To be Palestinian in Lebanon is to be wished a thousand deaths

1 June 2007 — In the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, on 31 May, there was a single story that only reported the details of the deaths of Lebanese soldiers. The official number from the Lebanese army over last weekend was a resounding one civilian death. By denying Palestinian civilian deaths we effectively commit a double crime: The first is the indiscriminate death of the victim; the second is the denial of this original crime. I suppose the victim is meant to carry a camera and document her own death to truly confirm it in the public’s eyes. EI contributor Sami Hermez comments. 

"They won't let me be at peace, even in my dreams"

I don’t know where to begin. After spending two days in Chatila Refugee Camp, and a day in Beddawi, I find myself at a loss for words. How do I describe the conditions these Palestinian refugees are being subjected to when I never even conceived of the possibility of such unspeakable conditions. Again, I don’t know where to begin. But I will try my best. I will try because all of the refugees we interviewed in our first day at Beddawi beseeched us to let the world know how their situation has quickly deteriorated in a matter of days. 

Reporting from the front: Interviews with PLO spokesman in Lebanon and PFLP official (Part 1)

“We were supportive of the Lebanese army because an illegitimate group was imposed on Nahr al-Bared and on the Lebanese sphere. It attacked the Lebanese army, which led to the murder of 30 soldiers. This necessitated a stand next to the Lebanese army because the honor of the Palestinian people is intertwined with that of the Lebanese.” Jackson Allers and Rasha Moumneh interview Hajj Rif’at, Director of Media for Fatah and the spokesperson for the PLO in Lebanon in the first of a two-part series. 

Reporting from the front: Interviews with PLO spokesman in Lebanon and PFLP official (Part 2)

“Honestly, the first day there was sympathy for the soldiers that were killed. But after the shelling started we felt that the targets were not Fatah al-Islam, but rather the Nahr al-Bared camp. … At the end of the day, there is a people that is being shelled and people are dying.” Jackson Allers and Rasha Moumneh interview PFLP official and Treasurer of the Committee for the Festival of Right of Return in the second of a two-part series. 

"Another Waco in the Making"

26 May 2007 — Bedawi is teeming with new arrivals from Nahr al-Bared where there is still no water, power or food. A few NGOs are still negotiating with the army for permission to enter. (Still possible to sneak in from the east but getting more dangerous to try it.) The problem is not being shot by Fatah al-Islam anymore. They are digging in. And the army is not as trigger happy as it was Monday through Wednesday. The “security agents” on the slopes above the army looking down into al-Bared are the main sniper danger. 

"They may accept us for a day or two but for how long?"

“We left yesterday. What can I say? The fighting wasn’t against Fateh al-Islam. The fighting was against our homes. Our homes were destroyed. If you were to go inside the camp, and see the camp for yourself, you would say the same. No homes [are] left. The homes on the extremity of the camp have all been destroyed. People left the extremity of the camp and went into the center of the camp, and the bombing followed them. We, in the center of the camp, received two bombs on our home. Our son was hit.” Rania Masri and Jackson Allers interview those who fled the siege on Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.