Socialist Worker

State to blame for violence in Lebanon

by Bassem Chit in Lebanon
Issue No. 2052

The attack by the Lebanese army on the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon has left a trail of death and devastation.

The siege has been followed by bomb attacks in Christian east Beirut and the ethnically mixed west of the city.

The army claims it is fighting a few hundred militants belonging to a shadowy Islamist organisation, Fatah al-Islam. Yet the army is indiscriminately shelling civilians and turning the homes of 30,000 refugees into a graveyard.

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There are desperate reports emerging from the camp of homes on fire and bodies in the streets.

The emergence of groups like Fatah al-Islam is a direct product of the policies of the Lebanese state towards the Palestinians.

For decades Lebanon’s rulers have stereotyped refugees as “criminals and terrorists”.

The lives of Palestinians are severely restricted by the state. They are even banned from working in many professions – including education and health.

An atmosphere of poverty and despair creates a fertile ground for groups like Fatah al-Islam.

Lebanese politicians speak of “terrorist outrages” – denouncing those responsible as “evil people”. Yet these same politicians have unleashed sectarian death squads whenever they feel their power is threatened.

Some, including members of the ruling March 14 coalition, took part in a series of massacres during the civil war, which ran from 1975 until 1990.

As a result Palestinians are fearful of having their camps undefended, and are often armed, or are members of local militias.

The state has been attempting to strip these areas of any protection.

It is the Lebanese state that is responsible for this violence, and their actions at Nahr al-Bared will only fan the flames of hate.


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