The Palestinian Element
After the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, between 100,000 and 170,000 Palestinian refugees entered Lebanon. They were mostly Muslims and nearly all Arabs, but they also included some Armenians, Greeks, and Circassians. During their first two decades in Lebanon, the Palestinian refugees emerged as politically powerful players. The number of Palestinians in Lebanon swelled as a result of the war between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Jordanian Armed Forces and the subsequent expulsion of several thousand Palestinian guerrillas from Jordan in 1970.
In 1987 a large number of Palestinians still lived in or around camps administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees in the Near East. In 1975 there were sixteen officially designated UNRWA camps in Lebanon, but in 1975-76 the Maronite militias evicted thousands of Palestinians from the suburbs of East Beirut and demolished their camps. By 1986 there were only eleven camps in Lebanon. Many relatively well-off Palestinians lived outside the camps. In 1984 the United States Department of State estimated that 400,000 Palestinians were living in Lebanon, whereas the PLO claimed the figure to be as high as 600,000.
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