Three killed in Lebanon clashes during Hamas member’s funeral

Hamza Chahine died in an explosion in south Lebanon on Friday

Men carry the coffin of a man who was killed in an explosion that occurred on Friday night in the Palestinian camp of Burj Al Shemali. Reuters

Three Hamas members were killed and seven were wounded on Sunday in clashes during the funeral of another member of the Palestinian militant group in Lebanon, a Lebanese army source told The National.

Hamza Chahine died when a blast struck the Burj Al Shemali Palestinian camp in south Lebanon on Friday.

Videos shared on social media show crowds running for cover in a graveyard amid heavy gunfire during the funeral in the camp, which is near the coastal town of Tyre.

The Lebanese army source said that fighting had erupted between members of Fatah and Hamas, two Palestinian groups present in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian camps.

The army source identified the three dead as Muhammad Taha from Ein Al Hilweh camp, near Tyre; Omar Assahli, from the nearby Mieh Mieh camp, and Muhammad Assayed.

The three young men all died from wounds sustained during the clashes that occurred inside the camp of Burj Al Shemali.

Ayman Shanaa, a Hamas official in the southern city of Saida, said in a statement that four people had died after unidentified gunmen “shot directly at mourners”.

The army source could not confirm the higher death toll.

Talal Al Abed Kassem, the head of the Fatah-PLO run national security forces in Burj Al Shemali camp, denied reports that Fatah was involved in Sunday's deadly shooting and called for an investigation.

Hamas leaders as well as officials from “Palestinian and Lebanese Islamic organisations” were in attendance, the state-run National News Agency reported.

The militant group had previously said that Friday night’s explosion was caused by an electrical short circuit in a storage area for oxygen bottles used to treat Covid-19 patients.

NNA had earlier reported that arms stored on behalf of the group had exploded, killing or wounding several people.

“Hamas condemns the misleading media campaign and the spread of false news that accompanied the incident,” the militant group said. It said reports about the cause of the blast and the “deaths of dozens” were baseless.

When asked by The National, a Hamas official in south Lebanon would not say what Mr Chahine’s role in the group was.

Lebanon is home to 172,000 Palestinians, many of whom are the descendants of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled to the country during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Palestinian factions manage security in the camps. Under an agreement in 1969, the Lebanese army does not enter them.

Updated: December 12th 2021, 5:19 PM