Palestinians in Lebanon face a steady campaign of intimidation
Beirut — The crudely mimeographed pamphlet showed a massive boot kicking the head of an Arab man wearing the checkered kaffiyehm headdress so often associated with Palestinians.
The meaning was clear: Palestinian refugees are no longer very welcome in Lebanon, despite a new government policy that clears the way for 240,000 of them to remain.
Over the past week the pamphlets have begun to show up in Sabra and Shatila, the sites of the Palestinian massacres last fall, and in Borj el-Barajneh, all camps on the outskirts of Beirut. They represent the latest and most direct act of intimidation.
Other tactics are more subtle politically but more brutal physically:
A series of bombs have shattered Palestinian shops and homes, both in Beirut and in southern towns under Israeli control.
At least 30 Palestinians have been murdered, according to Olof Rydbeck, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The victims have included men, women, and children.
Threats have been issued to Palestinians living outside the camps, usually by unidentified groups of gunmen. They are told to return to the refugee centers. Many of those who have not heeded the warnings have had homes ravaged or wrecked. More than 1,000 have moved, relief workers say.
The chain of events over the past three months coincided with a new government policy allowing UNRWA to rebuild the camps damaged during the Israeli invasion. This came after six months of unanswered appeals by the UN agency.
Relief workers say in private that the Lebanese authorities have to be ''shoved'' into even the smallest assistance. And diplomats note that hundreds of Palestinians remain in detention, some for as long as seven months. Officials of the multinational force claim the Lebanese Army continues to arrest Palestinians, usually late at night.
The apparent campaign, by both official and unofficial groups, has led to serious concern among UN workers in the south about the fate of Palestinians after the withdrawal of foreign forces. One high-level official suggested the US-orchestrated agreement does not provide adequate guarantees of protection against revenge killings or harassment.
The accord calls for redeployment of the 6,000 troops from 10 nations around the Palestinian camps as observers. (UN troops have served since 1978 in a buffer zone in southern Lebanon to separate the Israelis and Palestine Liberation Organization guerrillas.)
The terms, which have not yet been accepted by the Security Council, are viewed by UN personnel in Lebanon as dangerous for the Palestinians, since the UN forces will not have the power to prevent or stop attacks.
And there are strong fears among both Palestinians and UN officials that there will be acts of revenge, particularly by some of the gunmen now serving with Lebanese renegade militia leader Maj. Saad Haddad.
The agreement on withdrawal of foreign forces allows a significant number of the gunmen to be incorporated into the Lebanese Army and to continue serving in the south.
One high-level UN official charged that the US-designed accord allowed for the same mistake as the 1978 terms of deployment, which called for peace monitoring rather than peace-keeping. The Israelis were able to easily pass through the UN troops, who had neither the equipment or numbers to stop them, on the first day of the invasion.