Nahr el Bared Redux

Yet again the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr el Bared is under attack. For those of you who don’t know this history, click here for a link to an article I wrote detailing it up until 2008. I have been reposting information from two blogs, Words of Actionand Nahr el Bared – نهر البارد because the former is written by a journalist who is witnessing what is going on and the latter is collected from people who are in the camp. In these repostings there have been videos from the Solidarity Palestine Youtube channel, which are videos posted from the camp, including interviews with the martyr Ahmed Qassim who was murdered by the Lebanese army last week.  After going up to Baddawi camp a couple of times last week and meeting friends across the street from Nahr el Bared camp (because although they army was allowing women in that night, I was with a Palestinian friend from another camp who was not allowed in), I also wrote something, but I am waiting for it to be posted online before sharing it. But the most important and best article I’ve seen yet is an article that was published in al-Akhbar yesterday and I’m posting it in full below in the hope that as many Lebanese people as possible will read it given how many lies and much misinformation circulates whenever Palestinians and the army are the subject. In Lebanon, the army is believed by many people to be above criticism. And in many parts of Lebanon Palestinians are the ultimate scapegoat. For those readers who are willing to have their stereotypes challenged, here is “Letter From a Camp Resident: The Reality of Nahr al-Bared,” which dismantles most of the most egregious stereotypes and misconceptions:

By: Yousef Mohammed Ali

Published Saturday, June 23, 2012

Considering the misinformation and blackout in much of the media, and since the events were presented solely from the perspective of the main perpetrator in the crime of killing the innocent in Palestinian camps recently, I would like to state the following facts for those who are searching for the truth about what happened, and what is still happening, in the Nahr al-Bared Camp:

1. There have not been weapons in the Nahr al-Bared Camp since 2007, and it has been under military siege since then. The siege is so intense that no one can enter the camp – or leave it – except through the Lebanese Army. All the talk of confrontations proving the presence of weapons used by the Palestinians against the Army are lies, defamations designed to plant hatred in the hearts of our Lebanese brothers.

There have not been weapons in the Nahr al-Bared Camp since 2007, and it has been under military siege since then.

2. No Palestinian is allowed to enter the camp, even if he or she lives there, without securing permission from the Army. None of their relatives can visit them at the Camp without permission from the Army. This is because the Camp, since 2007, has been a militarized area, so military rules and regulations are applied there. Any Lebanese person, however, can enter the camp by simply presenting their personal identity card, even if they do not live in the Camp or even in Lebanon. Even the old cemetery [in the camp] is under military control, and entering it is only allowed on religious holidays and, even then, only with permission from the Army.3. The Lebanese Army can only open fire with the permission of a political decision, no matter against whom, as is the case in Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh, even when the Army are under attack. We all saw how the Army stood by watching in Tariq al-Jdideh during the recent events. Yet, the Army needs no such political decision to open fire on Palestinians. The reason is quite simple: the Palestinians have no one defending them, even if only with words.

4. Let no one be convinced that merely throwing stones at the Army or shouting insults at the soldiers can justify their opening fire on a group of youths, the majority of whom were under the age of 20. And for those who do not know, the youth that was killed on June 15 in the Camp was only 16 years of age, and he was killed by a direct shot to the head. (He was just standing on a street corner in the Camp.) He also had wounds to the chest and heart. Another youth also died from similar injuries. And the other youth, who died in Ein al-Hilwe Camp, was not killed by a knife, as reported by LBC, but killed by a shot to the neck from an M16.

Excuse me if I have dragged on, but we are fatigued from years of humiliation and searches and oppression and besiegement in the Camps.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Yousef Mohammed Ali is a Palestinian refugee from Tabaraya, living in Ein al-Hilwe Camp.

Below are photographs I took at a candlelight vigil for the martyrs in Nahr el Bared and Ein el Helwa camps (because the other camps subjected to the status of a closed military zone have joined in protests and sit ins since the the onset of this lastest attack on Palestinians by the army. The photographs are a bit blurry, but the signs on the wall demand the end to the status of closed military zone of all camps. Here are there other demands (also reposted below).
Anyone interested in learning more, please come to Nasawiya’s event this week about Nahr el Bared:

Live from Nahr el Bared نهر البارد يروي Public Event · By Nasawiya

In solidarity with the youth-led open sit-in ongoing in Nahr el Bared to end the military siege, we invite all activists, bloggers, and journalists for a night of discussion and learning with Palestinian activists.

Come with all your honest questions, meet residents from the camp, and talk to them personally to understand why it is imperative to end the military siege.

The evening includes a visual exhibition open from 5pm – 10pm, as well as a panel of conversation with the Palestinian activists starting 7:30pm.

تضامنا مع الشباب المعتصمين في مخيم نهر البارد ومطالبهم المشروعة المتمثلة بإنهاء الحكم العسكري في المخيم ووقف اعتماد نظام التصاريح، تدعو المجموعة النسوية جميع النشطاء والصحافيين والمهتمين للمشاركة في اليوم التضامني هذا. يتخلله عرض صور وأفلام قصيرة من الاعتصام وكذلك لقاء مع بعض الناشطين من المخيم القيمين على الاعتصام.

من المهم التعرف على وضع المخيم، وضع أهله، أين أصبح على صعيد إعادة الإعمار؟ هل ما تبثه وسائل الإعلام في نقلها للحدث من هناك صحيح؟ لماذا يجب فك الحصار العسكري؟…

تعالوا مع أسئلتكم من أجل نقاش صريح في شتى المسائل. ليكن يوما نتعرف فيه عن وضع اللاجئين الفلسطينيين في لبنان. ليكن يوما لنعيد التفكير في الكثير مما تشربناه من أفكار مسبقة ونمطية حول المخيمات واللاجئين في لبنان.

Date:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
5:00pm until 9:00pm

2 thoughts on “Nahr el Bared Redux

  1. Fatah al-Islam is a radical Sunni Islamist group that formed in 2006 in Baddawi refugee camp. It has been described as a militant jihadist movement that draws inspiration from al-Qaeda. It became very well known in 2007 after engaging in combat against the Lebanese Army in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp. It is heavily fortified, riddled with firing points and is a virtual armed camp. Are these the people you want us to feel sorry for?

    Maybe Marcy should write something about the conditions of the Nakba refugees who continue to live miserable lives thanks to the refusal of their Arab brothers who have steadfastly refused top let them integrate into the societies of the countries where they have lived for the last 64 years. 64 years ago Nakba was an injustice caused by Israel. Today the unending Nakba is purely the result of Arab indifference. The Arabs appear to be much better at shrouding themselves in the mantel of the eternal belligerent victim than in actually doing anything to alleviate the misery of their compatriots.

    1. You are a bit uninformed, Michael.

      First, if you want to know about the founding of the Salafi group Fatah al Islam, I recommend reading Seymour Hersh’s “The Redirection”:

      Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, the British intelligence service, and now works for Conflicts Forum, a think tank in Beirut, told me, “The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous.” Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.

      As for other writing I have done about Palestinian refugees who are victims of the Nakba, which was, of course, caused by the Zionists who colonized Israel, I recommend reading my new book or any other number of articles I have written. The problem is that these events are all linked. What is happening in Nahr el Bared is part of the ongoing Nakba as I made clear in an article I wrote on this subject.

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