Ain al-Hil­weh res­i­dents hold overnight protest over scan­ners

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON - By Mo­hammed Zaatari

BEIRUT: Hun­dreds of Ain al-Hil­weh res­i­dents Tues­day held an overnight protest against the me­tal de­tec­tors re­cently in­stalled at the main en­trances to the refugee camp, call­ing for the scan­ners to be re­moved.

One of the protest lead­ers, Sheikh Bassem Kayed of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Pales­tinian Re­li­gious Schol­ars in Le­banon, called on Grand Mufti Ab­del-Latif De­rian to ex­ert “pres­sure to re­move these elec­tronic gates, which hu­mil­i­ate Pales­tini­ans.”

The gates were set up ear­lier this week by the Le­banese Army in the lat­est of a se­ries of mea­sures to ramp up se­cu­rity at the camp.

Demon­stra­tors said they took care to avoid pass­ing by Army check­points on the camp’s bor­ders to pre­vent any ten­sions with the Army, which by con­ven­tion does not en­ter Pales­tinian camps. Scan­ners were also re­port­edly set up at the nearby Mieh Mieh camp, which lies just out­side the south­ern city of Si­don. The move has al­ready led to a wave of re­sis­tance ear­lier this week, with both sec­u­lar and re­li­gious fac­tions call­ing for the scan­ners’ swift re­moval.

Amid growing re­sis­tance to the scan­ners, a se­cu­rity source told The Daily Star that they be­lieve the scan­ners are an im­prove­ment since he said pre­vi­ously Pales­tini­ans had ob­jected to man­ual in­spec­tion upon en­try and exit from the camp.

“Why are [the Pales­tini­ans] try­ing to make this big­ger than it is, and why do [they] in­sist on de­scrib­ing the [scan­ners] as hu­mil­i­at­ing?” the source asked.

He said the added gates fell within the pa­ram­e­ters of pre­serv­ing the se­cu­rity of the camp and the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hood. Ac­cord­ing to the source, the same types of scan­ners had been set up across Le­banon at air­ports, em­bassies and malls.

How­ever, the pro­tes­tors are show­ing no sign of let­ting up. The in­stal­la­tion last year of sim­i­lar me­tal de­tec­tors in Jerusalem near the en­trance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque sparked one of the blood­i­est pe­ri­ods in the holy city for years.

They were re­moved af­ter sus­tained protest. Kayed Tues­day called for the camp’s res­i­dents to con­tinue ex­er­cis­ing their right to protest un­til the scan­ners, “re­jected by the Pales­tinian peo­ple in their en­tirety, are re­moved.”

Con­tro­versy over the scan­ners is the lat­est lo­cal re­ac­tion to in­creased se­cu­rity mea­sures around Ain al-Hil­weh. Fugi­tives and ex­trem­ists have used the camp as a hide­out and in Novem­ber 2016, the Army be­gan erect­ing con­crete bar­ri­ers on the camp’s perime­ter to sep­a­rate it from sur­round­ing ar­eas.

The move was ini­tially met with re­sis­tance from a num­ber of Is­lamist groups in the camp. Sev­eral hun­dred Pales­tinian refugees took to the streets then to de­cry what they called “the racist sep­a­ra­tion wall,” liken­ing it to the multi-hun­dred-kilo­me­ter wall Is­rael has con­structed in the oc­cu­pied West Bank.

The Army, how­ever, in­sisted the wall would not neg­a­tively im­pact the camp, as it would re­tain its six le­git­i­mate en­try points.

The same types of scan­ners had been set up across Le­banon at air­ports, em­bassies and malls.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.