GRAPHIC WARNING: Remembering the horrifying Sabra and Shatila massacre
Israel has admitted it was "indirectly responsible" for the killing of innocent men, women, and children.
Thirty-seven years ago, one of the bloodiest chapters in Palestinian history occurred in a refugee camp in Lebanon.
Around 3,500 Palestinians were murdered in a massacre committed by Lebanese Maronite Christian militants allied with Israel.
Between September the 16th and the 18th, 1982, Lebanese militants from the Christian Phalangist movement embarked on an orgy of murder, rape, and mutilation in the Palestinian refugee camps of Shatila and Sabra in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Phalangists carried out the massacre in territory controlled by the Israeli army and with the knowledge of Israeli forces stationed little more than a few hundred feet away.
The massacre, which the UN General Assembly proclaimed an ‘act of genocide,’ happened amid the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).
Despite often shifting alliances and internal conflicts, the war pitted mainly Muslim and leftist factions, allied to Palestinians, against predominantly Maronite Christian militias, including the Phalangists, who were associated with Israel.
In June 1982, the Israeli army instigated its second invasion of Lebanon in four years, to allegedly stamp out fighters faithful to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
This was also (then-Israeli Defence Minister) Ariel Sharon’s justification for allowing Phalangist fighters into the camps.
Yet it was not fighters the militants hunted. Instead, it was every single Palestinian insight; the young and old, women and men.
Pictures of the aftermath of the genocide show the bloated corpses of people piled on top of one another against walls and the bloodied corpses of little children lying face down in rubble.
One survivor, named Maher, recalled the killing of his family in a 2003 Al Jazeera article. He described Phalangists banging on the door to his family home and lobbing a bomb inside when they opened it, and then firing afterward.
Maher, who was hiding in the washroom at that time, said his sister, Shadya, survived the initial explosion.
“Shadya was trying to crawl towards me.
She was staring at me and screaming and saying, ‘dada.’ When they saw her moving, they shot her in the head.”
“I saw her brains blown out,” he said in a dead voice.
“She fell over between her dead father and mother, who had been injured, but not killed.”
Despite knowledge of the occurring massacre, Israeli forces didn’t do anything to intervene, as they were bound to do under international law for a population under their control.
Up to 3,500 Palestinians and Lebanese are believed to have lost their lives in the massacre.
Shock, horror, and outrage followed. The UN Security Council declared Resolution 521 unanimously, criticizing the massacre.
Israel instigated an investigation of its own on September 28, 1982, with the Kahan Commission of Inquiry. It stated that “direct responsibility” rested with the Phalangists, and that no Israelis were deemed “directly responsible,” although Israel admitted it was “indirectly responsible.”
Defence Minister Ariel Sharon, nonetheless, was found to bear “personal responsibility” for “ignoring the danger of revenge and bloodshed” and “not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed.”
He was dismissed from his position, yet that did little to damage his political career, and he became Israel’s Prime Minister in 2001.
What are your views on this? Share with us in the comments below.