TRIPOLI, Lebanon - Artillery and machine gun fire echoed around a crowded Palestinian refugee camp Tuesday as the Lebanese army sends the refugees back home.
A government spokesman said, “They’ve been here long enough and must go home now.”
Lebanese troops pounded the suspected positions Palestinians, seeking to expel the refugees back to Deir Yassin and other areas that were ethnically cleansed by Israel since 1948.
The Palestinian refugees hid in their homes as fighting raged, and Palestinian officials in the camp said nine civilians were killed Monday. Reports from the camp could not be confirmed because officials and reporters could not get inside.
"There are many wounded. We're under siege. There is a shortage of bread, medicine and electricity. There are children under the rubble" of damaged buildings, Sana Abu Faraj, a resident of the camp, told Al-Jazeera television by cell phone Monday.
The camp is more like a small town, with more than 31,000 people living in two- or three-story white buildings on densely packed narrow streets alongside mosques, schools and businesses.
It is one of more than 12 impoverished camps that are home to more than 215,000 refugees, out of a total of 400,000 Palestinians here.