Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Camp Massacres - Remembering Sabra and Shatila

Israel has been stamping on Palestinian refugees for a long long time.  In September 1982, the Israeli Defence Forces had been laying siege to the city of Beirut for many weeks, pounding their Palestine Liberation Army enemies, and the civilian population, with airstrikes and artillery.  A plan was devised, partly by President Reagan's Middle East shuttle-negotiator Philip Habib, for the evacuation and exile from Lebanon of the armed Palestinian units, led by Yasser Arafat.  Many civilians remained behind, however, with old men, women and children crowded into the refugee camps in the south of the city - Sabra and Shatila.

Starting on September 16, the IDF (under the overall political command of Ariel Sharon) sent gunmen from their neofascist Christian Maronite confederates, the Lebanese Phalange, into the camps, to winkle out what Sharon called 'terrorist nests'.  There were, of course, no such 'nests', and no other threat to the IDF.  But over the next three days, Elie Hobeika and his assassins murdered at least 800, and possibly as many as 3000, civilian Palestinians and Lebanese in the camps.  Their actions were overseen, literally, by IDF watch towers and observation posts.  The IDF prevented terrified people from fleeing Sabra and Shatila, and fired flares into the night sky over the camps to permit the Phalange to continue their brutal work.  No Israeli forces lifted a finger to stop them.

These killings were documented in horrifying detail by great journalists such as Robert Fisk and Jonathan Randal, both of whom managed to enter the camps before the killing was over.  Anyone who has read Fisk's epic book on the Lebanon wars, Pity the Nation, will never forget his account.

The Institute of Palestine Studies is putting up essays and material free on its website, to mark the thirty-second anniversary of this atrocity.  Here you will find essays and eye-witness reports on the slaughter:

Remembering Sabra and Shatila 32 Years Later


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