The forgotten massacre of Women and children in Sabra and Shatila

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Articles - Human Rights

The world remembered the September 11 barbaric terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, but there’s another September massacre which the world media has chosen to ignore because of the ethnicity and religion of the people — the savage massacre of Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon.

In September 1982, the anti-Christ Lebanese Maronite Christian militias were sent by Israel to Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon, to kill helpless Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinians asserted at that time that between 3,000 and 3,500 were killed, and described the action as "genocide".

The massacre was authorized by the Israeli IDF, under the command of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon that held the territory around Beirut at that time as a result of the June 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In the three-day slaughter, thousands of Palestinians were tortured, and raped; pregnant women had their stomachs torn open while militias took bets on the sex of the foetus.  

Sabra and Shatila massacre
The world woke up to a horrifying scene of the stockpile of bodies in the refugee camps, and Israel was held directly responsible for the atrocity.

Evidences suggested that certain Israelis, among them Ariel Sharon, were personally responsible. And on September 25, a massive demonstration of 300,000 Israelis was held in Tel Aviv calling on Prime Minister Menahem Begin and Sharon to resign.

The prominent British journalist, Robert Fisk, recollects the crimes graphically. "There were women lying in houses with their skirts torn up to their waists and their legs wide apart; children with their throats cut; rows of young men shot after being lined up at an execution wall; a pregnant woman with her stomach slit open sideways and then upwards, her eyes wide open, her dark face frozen in horror; babies tossed into rubbish heaps alongside discarded U.S. army ration tins; Israeli flare canisters lying around still attached to their tiny parachutes."

In February 1983, an Israeli commission appointed to investigate the crimes, headed by Supreme Court President Yitzhak Kahan, issued its report in which it laid the entire blame for the massacre on Christian Phalangists and found the Israeli occupation forces and Ariel Sharon only indirectly responsible for ignoring the danger of revenge and bloodshed by the Phalangists.

The Kahan Commission ignored the evidence that the Phalangist troops operated under Israeli command and with full Israeli assistance.

With regard to Sharon, the panel stated that he:

“... draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his office" - in other words, that he resign; or, if necessary, that the prime minister exercise his authority to remove a minister from office.

“In our view, the minister of defence made a grave mistake when he ignored the danger of acts of revenge and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population in the refugee camps ... It is our view that responsibility is to be imputed to the minister of defence for having disregarded the danger of acts of vengeance and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps, and having failed to take this danger into account when he decided to move the Phalangists into the camps.

“In addition, responsibility is to be imputed to the minister of defence for not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the danger of massacre as a condition for the Phalangists' entry into the camps. These blunders constitute the non-fulfilment of a duty with which the defence minister was charged. The genocide earned Ariel Sharon a nick name of "the butcher of Beirut".

The atrocities followed in the wake of Israel’s occupation of South Lebanon in June 1982, with the aim of “cleansing” the Palestinian fighters who sought refuge in Lebanon.

After fierce battles that lasted for two months and claimed the lives of about 18,000 Palestinians, U.S. envoy Philip Habib mediated an agreement that stipulated that the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) fighters leave Lebanon under international escort, Israel refrain from occupying West Beirut after the departure of the fighters and the U.S. guarantee the security of the remaining Palestinian civilian population.

On September 1, the fighters left Lebanon, by Sept 3, Israel occupied Bir Hassan in the suburbs of Beirut; violating Habib’s agreement, and between Sept 10 and 13, the American and international forces left Beirut two weeks before its mandate expired.

On Sept 14, Bashir Gemayel, the Maronite Christian President (with his known allegiance to the Israeli occupation) was assassinated. Using Gemayel's assassination as a pretext, Ariel Sharon, the then Israeli Defence Minister, ordered the occupation of West Beirut and the Israeli army, under the Fourth Geneva Convention and Protocol 1, became responsible for the security of the civilian population there.

But instead of protecting the Palestinian refugees in the camps, Sharon held meetings with Israeli ally Major Saad Haddad, leader of the South Lebanon Army militia, and Phalangist militiamen and politicians Elie Hobeika, Fadie Frem, Zahi Bustami, Amin and Pierre Gemayel. The Israeli soldiers were ordered to seal off the camps, only permitting the fanatical Phalangists to enter and go on a murder spree.

Victims were buried in mass graves, and soldiers were ordered to turn back any refugee who tried to escape.

But the world media, with its double standards when it comes to treating the Arabs and Muslims with fairness and justice, has already blotted any mention of this dreadful massacre.

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