Palestinian sources said the militias were working to establish a force that would protect residents of 11 UNRWA Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. They said the joint force would be overseen by a unified political command.

“This is the first step to achieve security in all of the camps in Lebanon,” Ali Baraka, a representative of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, said.

The sources said Hamas joined with Fatah and other Palestinian factions to organize the joint force. They said the force, which would deploy uniformed personnel, was already established in the Ein Hilwe UNRWA refugee camp near the southern city of Sidon.

“This would be evaluated in three months before it is set up in other camps,” Baraka said.

In an interview with the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al Awsat, Baraka said the forces would come under the supervision of the so-called Supreme Security Committee. He said the new force, inaugurated in Ein Hilwe on July 8, would also coordinate with Lebanon’s army and security forces.

The sources said Palestinians were concerned that the war in neighboring Syria would engulf Lebanon. They raised such scenarios as an attempt by Al Qaida’s Islamic State of Iraq and Levant to take over the refugee camps.

Ein Hilwe has long been regarded as the most turbulent of the UNRWA camps.

Al Qaida was said to have a major presence in Ein Hilwe, the largest in Lebanon and a battleground between militias.

The sources said the joint security force has been supported by the Palestinian Authority. They said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in coordination with Lebanese security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, has pledged an initial $75,000 and then $35,000 a month.