The Sabra and Shatila massacre was the slaughter of between 762 and 3,500 Palestinian and Lebanese Shia Muslim civilians, by a Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia assisted by the Israel Defense Forces, in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon.
The massacre was presented as retaliation for the assassination of newly elected Lebanese president Bachir Gemayel, the leader of the Lebanese Kataeb Party. It was wrongly assumed that Palestinian militants had carried out the assassination.
On September 15th, the Israeli Defense Forces had already surrounded the camp, and controlled the entrances and exits. It also occupied several multi story buildings that they deemed would serve as observation posts. Ariel Sharon and his chief of staff Rafael Eitan informed the phalangists that the PLO was behind the attack and invited them to enter the camps to take their revenge.
1,500 militiamen assembled at Beirut International Airport, then occupied by Israel. Under the command of Elie Hobeika, they began moving towards the camps in IDF suppliedJeeps, following Israeli guidance on how to enter the camps.
For the next 36 to 48 hours, the Phalangists massacred the inhabitants of Sabra and Shatila, while Israeli troops guarded the exits and continued to fire flares at night. Later on, a militiaman radioed his commander Hobeika and asked what to do with the women and children in the refugee camp. This was overheard by an Israeli officer, who heard Hobeika’s reply: “This is the last time you’re going to ask me a question like that; you know exactly what to do.” Phalangist troops could be heard laughing in the background.
The Phalangists did not exit the camps at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday as ordered. They forced the remaining survivors to march out of the camps, to the stadium for interrogations; this went on for the entire day. The militia finally left the camps at 8:00 a.m. on September 18.
Between 1200 and 3500 people were killed, around quarter of which were Lebanese, in the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian refugee camps between September 16 and 18, 1982.
Many of the bodies found had been severely mutilated. Many boys had beencastrated, some were scalped, and some had the Christian cross carved into their bodies.
Janet Lee Stevens, an American journalist later wrote:
“I saw dead women in their houses with their skirts up to their waists and their legs spread apart; dozens of young men shot after being lined up against an alley wall; children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbedor ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles.”
On December 16, 1982, the United Nations General Assembly condemned the massacre and declared it to be an act of genocide.
This work by The American Herald Tribune is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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