A large-scale Hamas effort to recruit new members from Lebanese refugee camps is facing harsh criticism from the country’s Christian community.
According to reports in Lebanon, Hamas seeks to establish a new military force in southern Lebanon because the terror group’s leadership feels betrayed by Hezbollah and Iran.
The Tazpit Press Service has learned from sources in Lebanon that Hamas has established a large-scale recruitment mechanism it calls “The Al Aqsa Flood” tasked with recruiting young men between the ages of 17-20 from the “Palestinian” refugee camps.
Evidence of this initiative first surfaced when an Israeli drone struck a four-man Hamas terror squad in the Lebanese village of Chaatiyeh on Nov. 21. Killed in the strike was Khalil Kharaz, Hamas’s deputy commander in Lebanon, along with an operative from Lebanon and two operatives from Turkey.
Although Hamas has announced the establishment of the Al Aqsa Flood, it has not specified its goals.
More than 489,000 descendants of “Palestinian refugees” live in 12 refugee camps across Lebanon.
The initiative faces strong criticism from Lebanon’s Christian community. TPS has learned that Christians not only fear a Hezbollah takeover of Southern Lebanon but the creation of what the Christians refer to as “Hamasland.”
“Hamasland” is similar to the name “Fatahland” which described Palestinian terror groups wielding great influence in Southern Lebanon during the mid-1970s, and was one of the key causes of the Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.
There have been increased reports of pressure exerted by Lebanese officials on Hezbollah not to Hamas to get a military foothold in the refugee camps, especially after it became clear that Hamas operatives took part in heavy fighting in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in August and September.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah was even reportedly asked not to allow the unrestrained activity of Hamas supreme leader Ismail Haniyeh in the country.
On Tuesday, Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that his government is working with the UN, US and Europe to “save Lebanon another war.” He added that Lebanon will soon renew negotiations to resolve its border dispute with Israel and apply UN Resolution 1701, which ended the Second War in Lebanon in 2006.
Neither the statement nor its timing were accidental.
Lebanon’s Christian community believes that if Hamas or any other entity under Iranian auspices establishes itself in Southern Lebanon, it will lead to a ruinous war with Israel.
Notably, Resolution 1701 also committed Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah and for the central government to reassert its control over Southern Lebanon.
The Blue Line demarcating the 120 km-long border was created in 2000 by UN cartographers to verify Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, which the UN Security Council later certified as complete. The border runs from Rosh HaNikra on the Mediterranean coast to Mount Dov, where the Israeli-Lebanese border converges with Syria. Hezbollah says it does not recognize the Blue Line and disputes numerous points along the border.