Palestinians and conscious people across the world are marking the 35th anniversary of the Israeli perpetrated massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon’s Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp.
The massacre took place after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, when Christian Phalangist militias entered the Beirut camp under Israeli regime’s military watch and supervision to wreak retribution for the alleged assassination of their leader Bachir Gemayel.
Between September 16 and 18, Palestinian refugees were killed in droves. At the time, the number of dead was estimated at 700, but eyewitness British reporter Robert Fisk says the number was closer to 1,700, while the Palestinian Liberation Organization, PLO, has previously said nearly 3,500 Palestinians were killed.
Criminal Sharon presided over massacre
Israeli regime troops in control of the perimeter of the camps did not stop the slaughter, firing flares overhead at night to aid the Phalangist gunmen.
For three days, Lebanese Christian Phalangists under the command of intelligence chief Elie Hobeika returned over and over again to go on an orgy of systematic slaughter in the camps. The massacre would not have been possible only for the collaboration of Israel regime’s military, which had months earlier invaded Lebanon and taken control of the camps.
An Israeli investigation found then war minister Ariel Sharon guilty of failing to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians. In a smokescreen decision, he was ’demoted’ but later became Israeli prime minister.
Massacre represents Israel’s cruelty
An Executive Committee Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Hanan Ashrawi said the massacre “still represents Israel’s cruelty and inhumanity towards the Palestinian people as a whole”
Describing Sabra and Shatila massacre as "A tragic chapter in Palestinian history," Ashrawi said after thirty-five years the massacre, as well as other massacres against the Palestinian people, goes unpunished.
Ashrawi said in her statement that the massacre “should remind the entire international community that the plight of the more than six million Palestinian refugees has not been resolved,” and that Israel and the US “must do justice to the Palestinian refugees and implement international law and UN resolutions.”
Sabra and Shatila were populated by destitute families of Palestinians that had fled from the massacres in 1948 carried out by Zionist Haganah death squads. The refugee numbers also mushroomed with Lebanese Shiite Muslims displaced from the civil war in their country that erupted in 1975.
UN implicates Israel, no action taken
The United Nations’ General Assembly later condemned what happened at Sabra and Shatila as “an act of genocide”. A UN commission of inquiry, headed up by Irish statesman Sean MacBride, concluded that the Israeli authorities and their forces were involved and responsible for the deaths.
Despite evidence in the UN Security Council, calling Sabra and Shatila a criminal massacre, and despite the UN findings that illegal weapons were used on civilians, Ariel Sharon, the man who was found to be personally responsible for this war crime, was never punished. Today, 35 years later, Israeli regime’s impunity and crimes against Palestinians especially in Gaza are still overlooked. The massacre of Sabra and Shatilla and other Israeli crimes and acts of genocide continue to strengthen the resolve of Palestinians to resist and continue the struggle for liberation of their land.