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Written by PARD   
Category: Where We Work
Published Date
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The Gaza Compound, a former hospital complex near the Shatila Refugee Camp in Beirut, was constructed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) on land owned by third parties during the Lebanese civil war. In 1982, the PLO handed control of the compound over to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) who administered it as a hospital until 1985.


During the civil war, a number of Palestinian families, who escaped the ‘War of the Camps’ took shelter in the vacant units in the compound and as they settled began to invite their relatives and friends to occupy the remaining vacant units. The four-building compound, never intended for accommodation purposes, currently houses a total of 262 families. Although most inhabitants are Palestinians, a recent building survey revealed an increasing number of non-Palestinians, mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Lebanese.


A committee for each of the four buildings collectively referred to as the Buildings Committee– (similar to the Popular Committees in the camps) acts as a moral authority in the compound and ensures the provision of certain services (water, electricity, etc).


The legal status of the Gaza Compound can be summarized as follows:


- According to the Real Estate Registry neither the PLO nor the PRCS own the land. The landowners are Lebanese public institutions and private natural persons. Some interviewees reported the existence of agreements between the landowners and the PLO authorizing the latter to build on the land. There was no access to any of these agreements; however, the silence of the landowners, since construction began, may be considered grounds to presume the existence of some form of agreement.


- The compound was constructed without a legal permit and consequently the buildings were never registered with the Real Estate Registry.


- In the absence of written agreements between the PLO and the Lebanese landowners, the buildings are considered to be owned by the landowners who will not be liable to pay compensation if the construction is proven to have been undertaken in bad faith (i.e. with prior knowledge of the non-ownership of the land).


- None of the inhabitants of the buildings hold a legal document, issued by the real landowner, which would grant them the right to occupy a unit or store in the building. Hence, no inhabitant has a legal right to reside in the building.





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