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Old 09-04-2007   #45
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Default Non Propredi est Regredi

Refugees grasp at bin Laden's words

Palestinian groups in Lebanon's Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp have little sympathy for US battle.

By Nicholas Blanford | Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Ali Al-Ali, a former Palestinian fighter, resides deep inside the slums of Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp.

Living in appalling squalor and surrounded by 70,000 Palestinian refugees, many of whom long ago lost hope of returning to their former homes in what is now Israel, Al-Ali has seen how his neighbors are desperately seeking to salvage some hope from Osama bin Laden's speeches of support for the Palestinians.

They may disapprove of his methods, and most condemn the Sept. 11 attacks, but for some in Ain al-Hilweh, Mr. bin Laden has become a symbol of defiance to the US, Israel's main ally.

Al-Ali has lived for nine years in the Ozo district of the refugee camp. Ain al-Hilweh is Arabic for "Sweet Spring," the waters of which once irrigated the orange groves surrounding the coastal city of Sidon, 20 miles south of Beirut. But today, the only running water is the raw sewage trickling down open drains. Barefoot children play in the filth outside Al-Ali's front door.

His wife and four children sleep on the floor of his cramped home. "I get the bed," he says, pointing at a rickety iron bedstead next to the glassless window. The tin roof lets in clouds of dust in the sweltering heat of summer, torrents of rain in the bitter winter.
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