Pro-Palestine factions’ weapons possession worries Lebanon

Lebanon-based pro-Palestine resistance factions appear to be in possession of heavy weaponry in their fight against Israel, elevating concerns for Lebanon’s government according to Asharq Al-Awsat and agencies on May 1.

The resistance factions include Hezbollah, the Amal movement, Jamaa al-Islamiya, and the two Palestinian factions of Islamic Jihad and the Qassam Brigades (Hamas’ armed wing).

They are reported to all be in possession of heavy weaponry, including Katyusha rockets.

While the factions have not disclosed how they obtained their weaponry security experts believe they were likely smuggled through illegal border crossings and from the extensive global network of illegal arms markets.

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Hezbollah is by far the largest of the factions, boasting 100,000 fighters, and with Israel estimating it has about 150,000 rockets in its possession.

Israel has killed over 350 Hezbollah fighters since the start of the war, with Amal reporting 17 members dead, and five killed for Jamaa al-Islamiya.

The Palestinian factions have not disclosed their member numbers or fatalities incurred.

It is thought they have dozens of fighters and are in possession of rockets from former Palestinian resistance groups active in Lebanon, according to sources from Palestinian movement Fatah.

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Despite the Lebanese government’s concern over demilitarising the factions post-war, political leaders are at a complete loss for how to solve this issue and have avoided confronting the problem at the political level.

MP Ibrahim Mneimneh, member of the “Forces of Change” parliamentary bloc, critiqued this passive approach to Lebanon’s security, blaming security forces “lax” approach in refusing to implement a crackdown on the groups’ possession of weapons.

“We reject the use of arms to impose new political equations,” he emphasised.

Lebanon previously came down on the widespread distribution of arms during the civil war with the 1989 Taif Accord. The Accord facilitated the war’s end and factions agreed to give up their weapons to the army – except Hezbollah.

Hezbollah enjoyed continued access to its weapons due to its positing as a resistance group fighting the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.

The group held onto their weapons even after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000.

 

Asharq Al-Awsat / Agencies

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