The Sabra & Shatila Massacre

Hits: 1197

On September 16, 1982, Christian Lebanese militiamen allied to Israel entered the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila and the adjacent neighborhood of Sabra in Beirut under the watch of the Israeli army and began a slaughter that caused outrage around the world. Over the next day and a half, up to 3500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, mostly women, children, and the elderly, were murdered in one of the worst atrocities in modern Middle Eastern history. The New York Times recently published an op-ed containing new details of discussions held between Israeli and American officials before and during the massacre. They reveal how Israeli officials, led by then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, misled and bullied American diplomats, rebuffing their concerns about the safety of the inhabitants of Sabra and Shatila.

Lead Up

  • On June 6, 1982, Israel launched a massive invasion of Lebanon. It had been long planned by Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, who wanted to destroy or severely diminish the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was based in Lebanon at the time. Sharon also planned to install a puppet government headed by Israel’s right-wing Lebanese Christian Maronite allies, the Phalangist Party.
  • Israeli forces advanced all the way to the capital of Beirut, besieging and bombarding the western part of city, where the PLO was headquartered and the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila and the adjacent neighborhood of Sabra are located.
  • Israel’s bloody weeklong assault on West Beirut in August prompted harsh international criticism, including from the administration of US President Ronald Reagan, who many accused of giving a “green light” to Israel to launch the invasion. Under a US-brokered ceasefire agreement, PLO leaders and more than 14,000 fighters were to be evacuated from the country, with the US providing written assurances for the safety of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians left behind. US Marines were deployed as part of a multinational force to oversee and provide security for the evacuation.
  • On August 30, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat left Beirut along with the remainder of the Palestinian fighters based in the city.
  • On September 10, the Marines left Beirut. Four days later, on September 14, the leader of Israel’s Phalangist allies, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated. Gemayel had just been elected president of Lebanon by the Lebanese parliament, under the supervision of the occupying Israeli army. His death was a severe blow to Israel’s designs for the country. The following day, Israeli forces violated the ceasefire agreement, moving into and occupying West Beirut.

The Massacre 

  • On Wednesday, September 15, the Israeli army surrounded the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila and the adjacent neighborhood of Sabra in West Beirut. The next day, September 16, Israeli soldiers allowed about 150 Phalangist militiamen into Sabra and Shatila.
  • The Phalange, known for their brutality and a history of atrocities against Palestinian civilians, were bitter enemies of the PLO and its leftist and Muslim Lebanese allies during the preceding years of Lebanon’s civil war. The enraged Phalangist militiamen believed, erroneously, that Phalange leader Gemayel had been assassinated by Palestinians. He was actually killed by a Syrian agent.
  • Over the next day and a half, the Phalangists committed unspeakable atrocities, raping, mutilating, and murdering as many as 3500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, most of them women, children, and the elderly. Sharon would later claim that he could have had no way of knowing that the Phalange would harm civilians, however when US diplomats demanded to know why Israel had broken the ceasefire and entered West Beirut, Israeli army Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan justified the move saying it was “to prevent a Phalangist frenzy of revenge.” On September 15, the day before the massacre began, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin told US envoy Morris Draper that the Israelis had to occupy West Beirut, “Otherwise, there could be pogroms.”
  • Almost immediately after the killing started, Israeli soldiers surrounding Sabra and Shatila became aware that civilians were being murdered, but did nothing to stop it. Instead, Israeli forces fired flares into the night sky to illuminate the darkness for the Phalangists, allowed reinforcements to enter the area on the second day of the massacre, and provided bulldozers that were used to dispose of the bodies of many of the victims.
  • On the second day, Friday, September 17, an Israeli journalist in Lebanon called Defense Minister Sharon to inform him of reports that a massacre was taking place in Sabra and Shatila. The journalist, Ron Ben-Yishai, later recalled:

    ‘I found [Sharon] at home sleeping. He woke up and I told him “Listen, there are stories about killings and massacres in the camps. A lot of our officers know about it and tell me about it, and if they know it, the whole world will know about it. You can still stop it.” I didn’t know that the massacre actually started 24 hours earlier. I thought it started only then and I said to him “Look, we still have time to stop it. Do something about it.” He didn’t react.”‘

  • On Friday afternoon, almost 24 hours after the killing began, Eitan met with Phalangist representatives. According to notes taken by an Israeli intelligence officer present: “[Eitan] expressed his positive impression received from the statement by the Phalangist forces and their behavior in the field,” telling them to continue “mopping up the empty camps south of Fakahani until tomorrow at 5:00 a.m., at which time they must stop their action due to American pressure.”
  • On Saturday, American Envoy Morris Draper, sent a furious message to Sharon stating:

    ‘You must stop the massacres. They are obscene. I have an officer in the camp counting the bodies. You ought to be ashamed. The situation is rotten and terrible. They are killing children. You are in absolute control of the area, and therefore responsible for the area.’

  • The Phalangists finally left the area at around 8 o’clock Saturday morning, taking many of the surviving men with them for interrogation at a soccer stadium. The interrogations were carried out with Israeli intelligence agents, who handed many of the captives back to the Phalange. Some of the men returned to the Phalange were later found executed.
  • About an hour after the Phalangists departed Sabra and Shatila, the first journalists arrived on the scene and the first reports of what transpired began to reach the outside world.

Casualty Figures

  • Thirty years later, there is still no accurate total for the number of people killed in the massacre. Many of the victims were buried in mass graves by the Phalange and there has been no political will on the part of Lebanese authorities to investigate.
  • An official Israeli investigation, the Kahan Commission, concluded that between 700 and 800 people were killed, based on the assessment of Israeli military intelligence.
  • An investigation by Beirut-based British journalist Robert Fisk, who was one of the first people on the scene after the massacre ended, concluded that The Palestinian Red Crescent put the number of dead at more than 2000.
  • In his book, Sabra & Shatila: Inquiry into a Massacre, Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk reached a maximum figure of 3000 to 3500.

Aftermath

Israel

  • Following international outrage, the Israeli government established a committee of inquiry, the Kahan Commission. Its investigation found that Defense Minister Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre, and recommended that he be removed from office. Although Prime Minister Begin removed him from his post as defense minister, Sharon remained in cabinet as a minister without portfolio. He would go on to hold numerous other cabinet positions in subsequent Israeli governments, including foreign minister during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term in office. Nearly 20 years later, in March 2001, Sharon was elected prime minister of Israel.
  • In June 2001, lawyers for 23 survivors of the massacre initiated legal proceedings against Sharon in a Belgian court, under a law allowing people to be prosecuted for war crimes committed anywhere in the world.
  • In January 2002, Phalangist leader and chief liaison to Israel during the 1982 invasion, Elie Hobeika, was killed by a car bomb in Beirut. Hobeika led the Phalangist militiamen responsible for the massacre, and had announced that he was prepared to testify against Sharon, who was then prime minister of Israel, at a possible war crimes trial in Belgium. Hobeika’s killers were never found.
  • In June 2002, a panel of Belgian judges dismissed war crimes charges against Sharon because he wasn’t present in the country to stand trial.
  • In January 2006, Sharon suffered a massive stroke. He remains in a coma on life support.

The United States

  • For the United States, which had guaranteed the safety of civilians left behind after the PLO departed, the massacre was a deep embarrassment, causing immense damage to its reputation in the region. The fact that US Secretary of State Alexander Haig was believed by many to have given Israel a “green light” to invade Lebanon compounded the damage.
  • In the wake of the massacre, President Reagan sent the Marines back to Lebanon. Just over a year later, 241 American servicemen would be killed when two massive truck bombs destroyed their barracks in Beirut, leading Reagan to withdraw US forces for good.

The Palestinians

  • For Palestinians, the Sabra and Shatila massacre was and remains a traumatic event, commemorated annually. Many survivors continue to live in Sabra and Shatila, struggling to eke out a living and haunted by their memories of the slaughter. To this day, no one has faced justice for the crimes that took place.
  • For Palestinians, the Sabra and Shatila massacre serves as a powerful and tragic reminder of the vulnerable situation of millions of stateless Palestinians, and the dangers that they continue to face across the region, and around the world.

Originally published on 2012-09-17

Source: Institute for Middle East Understanding

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

Sabra & Shatila Massacre in 1982

READ MORE!
Putin is Defeating More than ISIS in Syria
Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin, a little more than a year ago, in July 2014 were the focus of attention in Europe and North America, accused, without a shred of forensic evidence, of shooting down an unarmed civilian Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine. The Russians were deemed out to restore the Soviet Union with their agreement to the popular referendum of Crimean citizens to annex into the Russian Federation and not Ukraine. Western sanctions were being thrown at Russia by both Washington and the EU. People spoke of a new Cold War. Today the picture is changing, and profoundly. ...
READ MORE
Why World War II ended with Mushroom Clouds
In the current context, the US is threatening to wage a preemptive nuclear war against Russia, which possesses a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons. Hillary Clinton has confirmed that “nukes are on the table” and she intends to use them if she becomes president. We need to defend ourselves against Russia, Iran, North Korea and China. Her solution is to blow up the planet.World War II ended in Mushroom Clouds.If Hillary decides to wage a preemptive nuclear war on Russia, World War III would commence with mushroom clouds.How would World War III end. Would it have an ending?In the words ...
READ MORE
Five Times Corporate Media got Caught Publishing “Fake News” Causing the Death and Suffering of Millions
A now-notorious list of ostensibly “fake” news sites — created by a liberal professor, seemingly out of thin air — spread like wildfire online in the past two days and was eagerly reprinted by corporate media presstitutes hoping to vindicate their own failed reporting on the 2016 election.But branding perfectly legitimate outlets with the same scarlet letter as those devoid of integrity deemed the professor’s list a spurious attempt to defame alternative and independent media — anyone dissenting from the left’s mainstream narrative — as a whole.This is, in no uncertain terms, a hit list — or, at least, a laughable attempt — and ...
READ MORE
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Whenever bombings and shootings escalate in the Middle East, Israeli propagandists say that Israel is exercising its right of military self-defense against indiscriminate attacks coming from the Gaza Strip. But as this article documents, the right to use force in self-defense is contingent on Israel ending its military occupation and blockade of Gaza. DON’T MISQUOTE ME ON THAT! Doubtless some unscrupulous person or persons will quote or interpret this article out of context and claim that I’m saying that Israel has no right to self-defense at all. So, let me be clear: Israel is a nation-state like any other, like it or ...
READ MORE
From Cold to “Hot War”? Operation Barbarossa II
I stated some months ago, while assembling a criminal dossier against the NATO powers for the ultimate war crime of aggression, that the build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe, particularly American, concentrated on the Baltic states and Ukraine, presaged hybrid war operations against Russia leading to a general war. This build up of forces and ancillary developments I termed Operation Barbarossa II in light of the remarkable similarities to the build up of forces by Nazi Germany for the invasion of the USSR in 1941 which the Germans code-named Operation Barbarossa. Events have only confirmed my views. The degradation of ...
READ MORE
Why can Hillary Clinton not be US president?
Like in Israel, US ruling elites plan for the future strategies and choose presidents to suit the needs. After using a Black President Obama to attack North Africans and Arab nations for their energy resources in order to ensure energy security of the superpower, now the US leaders seem to think of using a female President in the name of Hillary to advance US interests globally.Former US state secretary Hillary Clinton and associates are being pampered by those who are scared of any possible change in US foreign policy towards a possible thaw and neutrality in world affairs, notwithstanding what ...
READ MORE
The Spirit of Christmas: War Criminals George W. Bush and Tony Blair Banned from the Birthplace of Jesus Christ
First published by GR in December 2006 War criminals George W. Bush and Tony Blair were banned for life in April 2003 from the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, widely believed to be the birth-place of Jesus Christ. The ban was announced at the height of the illegal US-allied bombing and invasion of Iraq. Below are the original 2003 press reports pertaining to that decision as well as a subsequent introductory note published by Global Research in December 2006. “The Bethlehem sanctuary issued a ringing reprisal Sunday [April 2003] of the coalition attack, going as far as barring US President George W. Bush, ...
READ MORE
The Roots of the Current Crisis in the Middle East
It is now fully five years since the greatest upheavals in the modern history of the Arab World started in Tunis. Always impressed by the latest events, we tend to forget the deep roots of the current violent struggle. But unless we confront the causes, there is little chance that the symptoms will be healed. (A partial version of this article in Spanish was published earlier in Free Haifa) The wave of refugees that has reached Europe and the terror attacks in Paris reminded many people in Europe and beyond of the crisis in our region – but at the same time ...
READ MORE
American Unlimited Imperialism: Syria
Historically, this latest eruption of American militarism at the start of the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. Then the Republican administration of President William McKinley stole their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to near genocidal conditions. Additionally, McKinley’s military and colonial expansion into the Pacific ...
READ MORE
The Dark Side of the Empire
One of rock's greatest albums is Pink Floyd's 1973 Dark Side of the Moon.This somber, surrealistic album paints a picture of what society has become, both 44 years ago and now. Such is this present American Empire, replete with our phony wars, excessive militaristic mindset and of course the drive for super wealth by greedy corporations and equally greedy individuals.Those of us who "knew better" foresaw the economic bubble burst of 2008 years before it occurred. So many of our friends and neighbors cared not a damn about the phony wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and later on against Libya and now proxy ...
READ MORE
Croatia’s Disrespect for Jasenovac Victims Has a Long Tradition
For the fourth year in a row, representatives of Croatia’s Jewish and Serbian communities, as well as anti-fascists, will boycott the official commemoration of the victims of the World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac on April 14.That means there will again be a separate, unofficial and much more well-attended commemoration for more than 83,000 Serbs, Roma, Jews and anti-fascists killed at the camp by the Croatian WWII fascist Ustasa movement, which will be held at the site on April 12.Representatives of the Roma community, Jasenovac’s second biggest victim group, will again attend both commemorations.For the fourth year in a ...
READ MORE
50 Shades of American Fascism
Hitler was a very good student. Those who read Mein Kampf will find therein many good words about America. More precisely, not about the whole of America, but about the numerous attempts of the American socialists to change the foundations of the American way of life.The ideas of forced sterilization and forced abortion were adopted by Hitler from the founder of feminism, American socialist Margaret Sanger. Madame Sanger even founded a special clinic to promote mass abortions of black people to reduce their number with the aim of completely eradicating blacks in America. This organization still exists–it is called Planned ...
READ MORE
Remembering U.S. Soldiers who Refused to Kill Native Americans at Sand Creek
A scholar shares the true story of two men who stood up and spoke out against the murder of American Indians, and how they are celebrated today. Native American tribal members pay their respects at the headstone of Union Officer, Capt. Silas Soule, at the Riverside Cemetery Dec. 03, 2014 in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.Every Thanksgiving weekend for the past 17 years, Arapaho and Cheyenne youth lead a 180-mile relay from the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site to Denver.The annual Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run opens at the site of the Sand ...
READ MORE
The Lies that are Used for Denying the Legitimacy of Crimea’s Breakaway
Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine and rejoining Russia is treated in the US-and-allied world as being justification for the explosive re-emergence in 2014 of America’s Cold War NATO alliance as being a restored war against Russia; and, so, whether or not that ‘justification’ is truthful is the paramount geopolitical issue in our era; and it will therefore be discussed and (via the links here) documented in this article.Though international law is generally an unenforced mess that is interpretable far more by partisanship than by any clearly applicable principles, the US Government does quite blatantly violate it on a routine basis, by ...
READ MORE
“Islamic State Déjà Vu”
Author’s note: The following article focussing on the jihadist terrorist insurgency in Macedonia was first published by antiwar.com in July 2001, barely two months before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.Known and documented, since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahedin (“holy warriors”) to fight covert wars on Washington’s behest had become an integral part of US foreign policy. A report of the US Congress had revealed how the US administration – under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake – had “helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base” leading to the recruitment ...
READ MORE
NATO Intensifies its Preparations for War with Russia
Against the backdrop of US aggression against North Korea, NATO is intensifying its preparations for war with Russia, the world’s second largest nuclear power. A report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel (Issue 43/2017) based on a secret NATO document indicates how far plans for war have progressed. The news magazine concludes:“In plain language: NATO is preparing for a possible war with Russia.”In the document entitled “Progress report on the Alliance’s Enhanced Deterrence and Defence Disposition,” leading military figures call for a major boost to military capabilities in order to conduct a so-called “Major Joint Operation Plus.” The abstruse ...
READ MORE
Parallels Between Israel and 1930s Germany
"Please don’t write about Ya’ir Golan!" a friend begged me, “Anything a leftist like you writes will only harm him!" So I abstained for some weeks. But I can’t keep quiet any longer. General Ya’ir Golan, the deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, made a speech on Holocaust Memorial Day. Wearing his uniform, he read a prepared, well-considered text that triggered an uproar which has not yet died down. Dozens of articles have been published in its wake, some condemning him, some lauding him. Seems that nobody could stay indifferent. The main sentence was: "If there is something that frightens me about ...
READ MORE
NATO: Lying All the Way to Barbarossa
Despite claims made during NATO Summit Warsaw 2016, that “NATO remains a fundamental source of security for our people, and stability for the wider world,” it is clear that the threats and challenges NATO poses as existing to confront are in fact threats of its own, intentional creation and continued perpetuation. From the ongoing refugee crisis triggered by NATO’s own global-spanning and ongoing military interventions, invasions, and occupations, to its continued expansion along Russia’s borders – violating every convention and “norm” that existed during the Cold War to keep it “cold,” NATO has proven that it is to the populations it poses as protector over, ...
READ MORE
Western Campaign Against Orthodox Church Turns to Montenegro
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” So Karl Marx wrote in 1843. For three generations over the course of the 20th century his atheist disciples violently sought to break their subjects of this “opium” addiction.They failed. In many though not all parts of the former communist bloc Christianity not only survived but provided the impetus for national and social revival. In some countries, like Poland, Hungary, and Lithuania, this meant Roman Catholicism. In others, like Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and ...
READ MORE
Crimes Against Humanity and the Israel-Palestine Conflict
For decades Palestinians have lived on the edge of annihilation, their homeland steadily annexed until just a slither of the original remains. It’s a story that just won’t go away, even for those thousands of miles away, who try to cover their ears and eyes from the shame which has befallen the ruthless oppressor of this now tiny peninsular of land and its battle weary people. In 1975, I worked on a kibbutz called Rosh Hanikra, in Northern Israel. It’s main income was derived from intensive commercial avocado pear production. There were maybe four hundred inhabitants. The social experiment known as ...
READ MORE
Putin is Defeating More than ISIS in Syria
Why World War II ended with Mushroom Clouds
Five Times Corporate Media got Caught Publishing “Fake News” Causing the Death and Suffering of Millions
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
From Cold to “Hot War”? Operation Barbarossa II
Why can Hillary Clinton not be US president?
The Spirit of Christmas: War Criminals George W. Bush and Tony Blair Banned from the Birthplace of Jesus Christ
The Roots of the Current Crisis in the Middle East
American Unlimited Imperialism: Syria
The Dark Side of the Empire
Croatia’s Disrespect for Jasenovac Victims Has a Long Tradition
50 Shades of American Fascism
Remembering U.S. Soldiers who Refused to Kill Native Americans at Sand Creek
The Lies that are Used for Denying the Legitimacy of Crimea’s Breakaway
“Islamic State Déjà Vu”
NATO Intensifies its Preparations for War with Russia
Parallels Between Israel and 1930s Germany
NATO: Lying All the Way to Barbarossa
Western Campaign Against Orthodox Church Turns to Montenegro
Crimes Against Humanity and the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu