Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp
Refugees peer out from their damaged home in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp outside the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon MAHMOUD ZAYAT/AFP/Getty Images

The erection of a wall around the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp outside the southern Lebanese city of Sidon due to "security concerns" has drawn harsh criticism both in Lebanon and abroad.

One of the country's largest refugee camps, Ain al-Hilweh is home to 120,000 people, including 75,000 Palestinians, as well as tens of thousands of war-fleeing Syrians and impoverished Lebanese.

Photographs of the work began emerging at the weekend, prompting many to take to social media. A Facebook group published the photos in a post titled "Wall of shame" in which it compared the structure to the barrier built by Israel to seal off the Palestinian West Bank.

"This picture is not in occupied Palestine, and the company building it is not Zionist. This is a picture of the wall of shame, the racial separation wall that the Lebanese government has been building around Ain al-Hilweh camp," the group, which documents news from the camp, said in a tweet (below).

Decades after being forced to migrate to Lebanon after the creation of Israel in 1948, a quarter of a million Palestinians are still denied basic social and economic rights in Lebanon, which has seen a resurgence in tensions between its armed forces and camp residents. Lebanon has no authority inside the camp, which authorities claim is used as a hideout for several extremist militants operating in the country and Syria.

Several residents of the capital Beirut, including Livia Caruso, likened the 4m to 5m barrier to an "apartheid wall". User @levantina said: "Palestinians literally cannot escape apartheid. Wall being built around Ein El Helwa refugee camp in Lebanon. This is shameful."

According to the Almodon Online website, refugees' movements in and out of the camp are now restricted. Palestinian refugees have to submit themselves to Lebanese security forces for inspections whenever they intend to leave the camp.

Commentators have highlighted the lack of attention surrounding the wall's construction. Haras Rafiq, CEO of counter-extremism think tank Quilliam Foundation, tweeted: "Lebanon begins building 'security wall' around Palestinian refuge - Cue the worldwide protests?"

A Canadian user, Howard Bryks, pointed out to an apparent silence from the United Nations (UN): "How is the UN going to spin this one?," he said. Known for his pro-Israel stance, blogger Andreas Fagerbakke, meanwhile, ‏tweeted: "This week, Lebanon built this wall around Palestinian refugees. You won't hear about this on CNN. No Jews, no news."

Munir Maqdah, the camp's head of the Joint Palestinian Security Forces, told Sky News Arabia that "the wall and [watchtowers] are being built for security concerns, which we accepted."

Quoting Lebanese officials, the Daily Star said the wall would take up to 15 months to complete.