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Violating Sanctions

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PLO Leader Vows to Fight Terrorism in Lebanese Refugee Camps

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | September 9th, 2007 | Comments No Comments

“We may need 10 years to heal the wounds created by the Fatah al-Islam group,” PLO leader Col. Sultan Abu Al-Ainain told our American and European delegation, referring to the terrorist organization that rooted itself in Nahr el-Bared, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp.Sultan Abu Al-Ainain
Last May, the Lebanese Army laid siege to the 40,000-person refugee camp after the Fatah al-Islam militants robbed a bank and ambushed Lebanese police, touching off the worst conflict in the 17 years since Lebanon’s civil war ended.

Abu Al-Ainain addressed our delegation at the southern Lebanon refugee camp of Burj El-Shamali, angrily and emphatically reaffirming his organization’s desire to maintain peace with its host country.

“We’re here in Lebanon, and we are against any [illegal activity in the camps] that compromises our legitimate right of return [to Palestine].”

The PLO, he claimed, had met with Lebanese leaders and had agreed to go into the northern Lebanon refugee camp to eliminate Fatah al-Islam forces, but internal bickering within the Palestinian factions delayed action.

The dapper leader did not directly address the actions by the Lebanese Army, which Palestinian eyewitnesses described as indiscriminate shelling.

“It was a horrible level of devastation,” Abu Al-Ainain said, shaking his head. “I am ashamed. It is a tragedy and a catastrophe,” he said of the 35,000 Palestinian refugees who fled or were evacuated to nearby Beddawi refugee camp. [Our delegation will be meeting with refugees from Nahr el-Bared this Wednesday.]

When asked about the justification for the Lebanese Army’s raid to route out weapons caches, the PLO leader leveled his cool, piercing gaze on his audience:

“Listen to me very carefully. What happened in Nahr el-Barad is a lesson for all of us to learn from. Some people talk about cells here, sleeper cells there. This is an exaggeration to undermine our relationship. In the name of the PLO, we will NOT compromise with ANY cell at the expense of the safety and security of the camps and of Lebanon. We will not compromise safety!”

“As PLO, we will not allow anyone to use the refugee camps as a launch to undermine relationships or to expose refugees to harm. This is the lesson we learned from Nahr el-Barad.

“We decided that it is our policy as the PLO to take care of [security]. Refugee camps will not be conflict zones between Palestinian [factions] or between Palestinians and the Lebanese.

“Our guns in the camps will be used to secure the camps against [terrorist] cells.”

In’shallah.
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