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Comrade Abdullah Dannan: Struggle in Ain al-Helweh

Jun 072014

 The following article, interviewing Comrade Abdullah Dannan about his experiences resisting the Zionist invasion of Lebanon, by Intisar Dannan was published in Lebanon’s Al-Safir newspaper on June 6:

Abdullah Dannan of Ain al-Helweh refugee camp joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1973, soon after the October War. The most memorable scenes he recalls of his experiences are from the Zionist invasion of Lebanon in 1982; his diary of the period is of struggle mixed with pain. “On June 4, 1982, I was in Beirut when the Zionist enemy began shelling the city and the camp of Bourj al-Barajneh with warplanes.

I decided to return to the camp, and when I arrived the situation was almost normal militarily. We did not know that the Zionist enemy had overrun Lebanon to Beirut. We felt that something was going to happen and prepared ourselves to fight,” he said.

“The Israeli invasion began on Sunday, from the area of Ras al-Ain, south of Tyre, and huge numbers of Zionist tanks entered from the south, infiltrating the areas of the international emergency forces. We then learned that there is an invasion of Lebanon. The leadership of the Palestinian revolution at the time were aware of the coming invasion, and had advance information about the planned invasion, and unfortunately did not work on a plan to counter it,” he said.

“We felt that there is a plan to besiege Sidon, and some of the young people of the city left heading to Beirut and the Bekaa, but I stayed in the camp with some young people to deal with any possible attack, especially after Israeli tanks occupied the hills above Sidon, Ain al-Hilweh, Mieh Mieh and Maghdouche, making camp under the crossfire,” he continues. Abdullah recalls how fighters in the camp saw the bodies of their comrades in the roads in Sidon and in the camp without being able to bury them, and how they saw the wounded bleed without being able to help them as they would be sniped. “In spite of this, the camp survived and remained as steadfast as possible.”

He points out, “During the battles, battalions of tanks attempted to enter the camp. Upon the arrival of the first tank to the Martyrs’ Mosque, it was destroyed and a number of Palestinian fighters fell as martyrs. The Zionists also tried to enter from the south side of the camp, but Palestinian fighters succeeded in destroying a group of tanks and capturing Zionist soldiers, but they could not keep them, due to their military weakness.”

He adds, “During the siege of the camp, we heard on the radio that the Israeli tanks reached the outskirts of Beirut and that there is steadfastness in Bourj al-Shemali and Rashidiya and Beaufort Castle, which strengthened us and our resolve. We chose to defend the camp although we had little hope for us to achieve victory, as the city of Sidon had fallen and the perimeter of the camp as well. We evacuated some of the young people from the camp, especially as we began to run out of ammunition and food.”

He said that, “The camp did not fall in a military way but rather in a tactical way. After over six days of siege, an opportunity was given for the exit of civilians from the camp, and some of the fighters went out with them. After the camp was emptied of its people, the Zionists came in and arrested those who remained, including myself, and imprisoned us at Ansar prison camp.”

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