Photo Credit: Atia Mohammed/Flash90
Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, at a rally in Gaza City, on May 24, 2021.

“We already knew at the time of the shooting in the Al-Burj Al-Shemali camp in Lebanon that the shooters were Hamas members whose goal was to ignite a conflict in the refugee camps in Lebanon and also threaten stability in the Palestinian Authority,” a PA source told TPS, referring to the shooting incident on Sunday in which three Lebanese camp residents were killed during the funeral of Hamas operative Hamza Shahin, who was killed in a mysterious explosion at a camp warehouse on Friday night.

The blast is believed to have been caused by the explosion of a Hamas weapons cache.


During the incident, Zahar Jabarin was lightly injured. He is one of the leaders of Hamas’ military wing and currently serves as the deputy to Saleh Aruri, the Hamas leader in charge of Judea and Samaria. Jabarin, a senior Hamas member released in the Shalit deal, is the one in charge of funding the “Construction Administration,” which is responsible for Hamas’ military buildup. He took part in Shahin’s funeral, along with other senior Hamas figures, including Hussam Badran and Raza Rishak.

Sources report that Hamza Shain, the Hamas man who died in mysterious circumstances in the camp, is the brother of Muhammad Shahin, a senior member of Jabarin’s “construction directorate.”

The suspicion that Hamas is behind the shooting incident in the camp is explained by the fact that the terror group is trying to divert the criticism in southern Lebanon away from it following what appears to be a “work accident” in one of the weapons caches it built among the civilian population near Tyre (Tzur in Hebrew).

One of Fatah’s senior figures describes a very violent reality in recent years in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, which includes gun battles between the factions that have become routine.

“The quantities of weapons in the hands of the factions are enormous and there is no possibility of clarifying the affiliation of the shooters because today it is not possible to know who belongs to whom and the loyalties are many and contradictory,” he said.

“Everyone is shooting at everyone,” said a senior Fatah official, adding that Hamas has enormous and superior capabilities compared to Fatah, and that in recent years, it has established in the camps the presence of its military wing, in cooperation with Hezbollah and with the help of large sums of money.

“Hamas has not yet been able to reopen its doors to Syria, from which it was expelled following its support for the Syrian rebels, but its efforts are continuing in that direction and if successful, it could become a significant center of power in Lebanon,” he said.

In recent years, Israel has been monitoring Hamas’ covert activities in Lebanon. In January 2018, an explosion occurred in the car of Muhammad Hamdan, a senior member of the organization, in the city of Sidon. He was lightly injured. Sources in Lebanon claimed that Hamdan, the brother of Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas figure, was the secret liaison between Hamas and Iran in the Sidon area and set up a Hamas military infrastructure under the direction of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). He also serves as Hamas’ liaison with Hezbollah.

The Growing Tension Between Fatah and Hamas

Hamas is blaming Fatah and PA head Mahmoud Abbas for “responsibility for the massacre against the Palestinians in Lebanon and especially while the situation in southern Lebanon is very sensitive.” Its spokesmen boasted that the area will continue to be “a hotbed of Palestinian resistance even though it is under Israeli attack.”

Hamas has demanded the extradition of the shooters to the Lebanese authorities, and one of its Lebanese representatives, Ayman Shana’a, pointed the finger at the “Palestinian National Security Command in Lebanon,” the new name of the military wing of Palestinian organizations in Lebanon. On the other hand, the Command accused Hamas of inciting against Fatah and ignoring its authority.

In southern Lebanon, allegations have been made that one of the shooters was identified as a Fatah member, but the organization’s officials deny this.

Eyewitnesses in the camp also told the media that the identity of the shooters could not be clarified. The National Security Command explained that it had decided to transfer the suspects to Lebanese authorities and would not hesitate to bring them before a court if their guilt was proven, but its spokesmen stressed that this step was intended to prove that the suspected shooters were not related to Fatah or the Command.

A senior Fatah official told TPS that “Hamas may set fire to the refugee camps in the Palestinian Authority through the fermentation of refugees in the camps in Lebanon, which indicates the growing power of Hamas in the Lebanese arena in a way that Fatah can only dream of.”

The violent incident between Hamas and Fatah joins the growing tensions between the organizations in recent months. The postponement of the PA elections in May and the failure of reconciliation efforts between the parties also raised the level of tension between Hamas and the PA.

A senior Fatah official, one of the refugee leaders, said that “the Islamic Jihad is also gaining a lot of power, especially in the northern West Bank and refugee camps. Since its men escaped from Gilboa Prison, its prestige has risen among the young people in the northern West Bank and many who belonged to Fatah and even Hamas are joining the ranks of the pro – Iranian organization that is now perceived as the most militant organization in the Palestinian arena.”


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Baruch reports on Arab affairs for TPS.