Al Baas Camp, Tyre
Unlike the camp I had seen in Beirut yesterday, the roads leading into the Al-Baas Palestinian camp were blocked by large concrete blocks, and on the principal roads, Lebanese army. I couldn’t help wonder if the scooters that nipped past were keeping tabs on me here.
The prevalence of Fatah in Sabra & Chatila was contrasted here by that of Hamas. Speaking with one guy in the street, he told me he was Hamas, but that his cousin who stood next to him, was affiliated with Fatah. “Is this a problem?” I asked. “Not here” was the reply. In Palestine, yes.
Later on, drinking tea in a family home, several framed photographs hung on the wall. One depicted my host in his Palestinian army unit, each of the men in red berets yielding Kalashnikovs. Another showed a famous Palestinian general, and another, Yassar Arafat.
The opposite wall held family photographs. There was a photograph of him shaking hands with his brother, but a barbed-wire fence separated them. He stood in south Lebanon, his brother in Israel, although he referred to it as “Palestine”. This was the first time they’d seen each other in years, but their meeting was marred by metal.
His son had graduated as an engineer, but the opportunities for Palestinians here are somewhat more constrained than their Syrian counterparts. He had a job, which is difficult enough to find — there is heavy discrimination — but no chance of a contract, and therefore no job security. “Just the pay-check at the end of the month”, he said.