TEL AVIV – The Palestinian Authority is sponsoring training for Fatah and PLO loyalists in Lebanon to prevent the fall of Palestinian refugee camps into the hands of the Islamic State, a top Palestinian security official told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The training course, led by Fatah’s senior militant, Munir Maqdah, enlisted 500 participants whose induction was similar to that of the Palestinian National Guard.
In April of last year, IS fighters stormed al-Yarmouk camp, a suburb of Damascus, which is home to the largest Palestinian refugee population in Syria.
The security official said that the PA leadership was traumatized by the fall of al-Yarmouk. Particularly troubling was the fact that the last line of defense was made up of Hamas fighters and members of other organizations that are not part of the PLO.
Palestinian and Lebanese representatives in refugee camps have noticed increased Salafi activity, including greater adherence to IS. Fearing it may destabilize the camps and spill over into the rest of Lebanon, which is home to some 500,000 Palestinian refugees, the PA has decided to launch training programs.
Despite its financial constraints, the PA funds the training and pays the cadets. The training is done in conjunction with the Lebanese government and local security forces, the official said.
Azzam al-Ahmad, the Palestinian Minister for Lebanon, told Breitbart Jerusalem that the Palestinian leadership does its utmost to maintain peace and stability in the refugee camps in Lebanon, and fend off an attempted takeover by radicals who may endanger not only the camps, but the entire Palestinian community in Lebanon and the country itself.