Abu Iyad Shaalan, the commander of Fatah's Palestinian National Security in Lebanon's Sidon area, said in an August 18, 2023 show on Falastinona TV (Fatah-Lebanon) that the recent statement of the director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon condemning the presence of armed groups in UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) schools is insufficient. He asserted that the director must specify the groups in question, enforce their removal from the schools, and return them to the Lebanese government. Shaalan elaborated that UNRWA schools are currently being used as military barracks by terrorist takfiri groups, from where they plan to confront Fatah forces. Shaalan’s interview comes on the backdrop of last month’s clashes in the Ain Al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon, during which his predecessor, Abu Ashraf al-Armoushi was assassinated by Islamic militants.
Interviewer: "The UNRWA schools in the area [are] controlled by the takfiri groups. In a statement today, the director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon today denounced the military presence in those schools. What's your reaction?"
Abu Iyad Shaalan: "The statement of the director of UNRWA has come late."
Shaalan: "Although we welcome this decision, the director of UNRWA must specify who took over these schools, beginning with the assassination of Abu Ashraf Al-Armoushi – whose killers emerged from an UNRWA school – and to this day. Today these UNRWA schools constitute military barracks for the terrorist groups.
"UNRWA should have intervened from day one. It should have filed a complaint with the United Nations. The UN is responsible and must evacuate these schools, and [hand them] over to the host state. After all, we are refugees on the land of a host country, which is Lebanon.
"The director did not clarify who exactly took over these schools. Two of these [UNRWA] schools have been turned into military barracks, where the terrorists are concentrated in order to confront our forces. Therefore, if there is a decision to remove the militants from these schools, the UNRWA director must specify who these militants are, and we are ready to do whatever is required of us immediately, on condition that the other side – the terrorists – abide by the decision and pull out of these schools."