Two more militants from Ain al-Hilweh turned themselves over to the authorities Monday as sources say this is the result of increased cooperation between the Palestinian factions and the state security apparatus. Mohammad Abdul-Rahman Shmandour walked alone to the Army checkpoint at the entrance of the Ain al-Hilweh camp in Sidon and announced his surrender. He is the brother of former Lebanese singer Fadl Shmandour, more commonly known as Fadl Shaker, who is still in hiding inside the camp after participating in the 2013 clashes between the Army and extremists loyal to imprisoned Preacher Sheikh Ahmad Assir in nearby Abra.
A few hours later Bakri Ismail, suspected of belonging to a radical faction, turned himself over to Army Intelligence at the camp’s western entrance.
Sources told The Daily Star that the militants’ surrender was the result of a process emanating from direct coordination between the Army, Sidon city officials, and select figures within the camp.
Bakri and Shmandour turned themselves in a day after Bahaa al-Bernawi and Mahmoud al-Qarout surrendered to the Army.
The sources stressed that individuals that were wanted for minor infractions, face unclear charges, or have been tried in absentia have nothing to worry about, noting that assurances were given by the judiciary that such persons would not be subject to torture or mistreatment.
Such an initiative would defuse the tensions in Ain al-Hilweh and increase the pressure on terrorists still at large within the camp, the sources said, adding that camp factions would come up with a way to solve the problem of high profile terrorists facing major charges.
The surrenders coincided with the Palestinian Joint Security Forces’ success in uncovering the details of a murder in the nearby Mieh Mieh camp and the handing over of the culprits to Army Intelligence.
“As a result of the coordination between the Army and the Joint Security Forces the Army Intelligence Directorate received Palestinian nationals Hamza Sidawi, Mustapha Hasanein, and Kassem Mahmoud due to their involvement in an incident yesterday [Sunday] that led to the death of ... Khaled Abu Jeida” a statement by the Army read. The suspects are currently under investigation.
Ain al-Hilweh has recently been thrown into the spotlight following allegations that Daesh (ISIS) would use it as a base to carry out future attacks. The camp is a haven for a number of extremist factions deemed terrorist organizations by the state.
While the Palestinian Joint Security Forces operate inside Ain al-Hilweh, Lebanese authorities are prohibited from entering most of the country’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps. Security services are only permitted to maintain checkpoints at the entrances to the camps.
Separately, sources told The Daily Star that Assir, who is being held in the Rihanieh prison in Yarze, would finally be moved to the Roumieh prison. The firebrand preacher has often complained about prison conditions in Rihanieh and demanded that he be transferred to Roumieh.