The refugee massacre at Sabra and Shatila remembered

September 20, 2011
Sarah Benton

On the 29th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre

by Seham, Mondoweiss

“The following morning, at 11:30 a.m. on Friday 17 September, General Drori ordered the militiamen to stop their operation, but after a further meeting with Phalangist officers the Israelis agreed to let them remain in the camps until the following day. Hobeika was also given permission to use two battalions of fresh troops and in the afternoon another force of militiamen entered the camps where they began a new round of killing. The Israeli commander in Beirut, General Yaron, has since admitted that, in spite of the fact that Israeli officers had known for several hours that the massacres were taking place, the Phalangists were allowed to call up reinforcements and remain in the camps for a further thirty-six hours. The militiamen rampaged around Sabra and Shatila until Saturday morning killing indiscriminately: nurses were raped by the killer gangs and then shot, children were scalped, patients from two hospitals were dragged from their beds and knifed to death. The Phalangists left most of their victims where they killed them, in their homes or in the streets, but some of them borrowed Israeli bulldozers and tried to cover up their deeds by shovelling corpses into mass graves. Because some of the victims were taken away and never seen again, and because it was decided not to open up some of the graves, it will never be known how many people were butchered. But perhaps as many as 2,000 people were killed and not even Sharon can pretend that these were the ‘terrorists’ he was allegedly looking for.”

“On the morning of 18 September, Morris Draper, another of President Reagan’s envoys dispatched to Beirut, sent a message to Sharon alleging Israeli responsibility: ‘You must stop the massacres. They are obscene. I have an officer in the camp counting the bodies. You ought to be ashamed. They situation is rotten and terrible. They are killing children. You are in absolute control of the area, and therefore responsible for that area.’ But the responsibility was greater than Draper suggested. On 15 September Israeli troops had surrounded Sabra and Shatila. They were never more than 300 yards away from the camps and sometimes as close as 50 yards. Moreover, Israeli soldiers were on the roof of the Kuwait embassy nearby and could see what was happening in both camps. There is a mass of evidence to show that the Israelis knew that a massacre was in progress by Thursday evening but did nothing to stop it until Saturday morning.”

“There is further evidence which indicates the extent of Israel’s complicity in the massacre. The discovery in one of the camps of an Israeli sergeant’s identity tag does not prove that he actually took part in the killing but it is significant that the Israeli army did not allow him to appear before the Israeli Commission of Enquiry. More importantly, the Israelis were prepared to assist their Phalangist allies in a number of different ways: they lent bulldozers so that the killers could bury some of the dead; they fired flares throughout the night of 16 September–at a rate of two a minute according to one Israeli soldier — so that the killers could see what they were doing; worst of all, they prevented civilians from fleeing and forced those who tried back into the camps.”
All excerpts were from: Gilmour, David. Lebanon, The Fractured Country. New York: St. Martin’s Press, Inc. 1983, pages 174-176

Sabra, Shatila massacre anniversary commemorated
Mariam Saleh, Press TV, Beirut

The Sabra and Shatila massacre which was reportedly carried out by Phalange militia men with Israeli assistance and cover went on from September 16th to the 18th of 1982. Hundreds of people including women and children were either stabbed or shot to death.

International sources estimated the number of casualties to be 800; while local counts through the families of the victims say the number was more than 3000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians killed and many missing.

Kamal Maruf’s son Jamal is still missing to this day after the militia men handed him over with a group of young men to the Israeli army which was occupying Beirut at the time.

The various foreign activists, many of whom commemorate this event every year say they are expressing their solidarity with the Palestinians and their humane anger at the Israeli policies.

The Palestinian ambassador to Beirut told Press TV that Israel and the US’s opposition to an independent Palestinian state will not depress the Palestinians from calling for the right to return to a sovereign country.

The perpetrators have never been punished. In 2001 a law suit was filed in Belgium by the survivors of the massacre and relatives of the victims. They accused Ariel Sharon who was the then minister for military affairs of being personally involved in the killings. Although the case was won, US interference led the Belgian Parliament to gutting the universal jurisdiction law.

At first Israel had denied it conspired in the massacre, yet as a result of international condemnation, Israel had reportedly conducted an investigation into the massacre known as the Kahan Commission which concluded in February 1983 that Israel bore part of the “indirect responsibility” for the massacres.

On September 24, 2003, Belgium’s Supreme Court dismissed the war crimes case against Ariel Sharon, since as it said” none of the plaintiffs had Belgian nationality at the start of the case.”

Palestinians believe that the sabra and Shatila massacre was part of the Israeli policy to try and cancel the memory of Palestine from the hearts and minds of Palestinian refugees all over the world and discourage any Arab support on that issue; however Palestinians say the call for the right to return is louder than ever.

Remember Sabra and Shatila
By Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine, Sydney

Between 16-18 September 1982, during the civil war in Lebanon, the Sabra and Shatila massacre took place in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon. Palestinian and Lebanese civilians were massacred in the camps by Christian Lebanese Phalangists while the camp was surrounded by the Israel Defense Force. In that period of time, Israel was at war with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in Lebanon, and Israeli forces occupied Beirut and controlled the Palestinian refugee camps and the entrances to the city. Varying reports at the time numbered victims of the massacre from 800 up to 3500.

An Israeli Government inquiry in 1983, the Kahan Commission, found that the Israeli military were completely aware of the massacre taking place and did nothing to stop it. The Commission therefore regarded Israel as bearing part of the ”indirect responsibility” for the massacre, and Ariel Sharon, as the highest military leader at the time, as bearing personal responsibility for the massacre for not preventing the Lebanese Phalangist militia from entering the camps.

CJPP commemorates 29 years since this horrendous and sad episode in Palestinian history.

For more information and photos of the Sabra and Shatila, watch several videos on the following link:

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