The Sabra and Shatila Massacre

On 6 June 1982, the Israeli army invades Lebanon in what it describes as ‘retaliation’ for the attempted assassination of Israeli Ambassador Argov in London on 4 June. By 18 June 1982, Israel has surrounded the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) armed forces in the western part of the Lebanese capital. A cease-fire, mediated by United States Envoy Philip Habib, results in the PLO evacuation of Beirut on 1 September 1982.

On 11 September 1982, Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon, the architect of the invasion, announces that ‘2,000 terrorists’ had remained inside the Palestinian refugee camps around Beirut. On Wednesday 15 September, the day after the assassination of Israeli-allied Phalangist militia leader and Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel, the Israeli army occupies West Beirut, ‘encircling and sealing’ the camps of Sabra and Shatila, which are inhabited by Lebanese and Palestinian civilians.

By mid-day on 15 September 1982, the refugee camps are entirely surrounded by Israeli tanks and soldiers, who install checkpoints at strategic locations and crossroads around the camps in order to monitor the entry or exit of any person. During the late afternoon and evening of that day, the camps are shelled.

Around mid-day on Thursday 16 September 1982, a unit of approximately 150 Israeli-allied Phalangists enter the first camp. For the next 40 hours members of the Phalangist militia rape, kill, and injure a large number of unarmed civilians, mostly children, women and elderly people inside the encircled and sealed camps.

The estimate of victims varies between 700 (the official Israeli figure) to 3,500. The victims and survivors of the massacres have never been deemed entitled to a formal investigation of the tragedy…

Remember Sabra and Shatila!

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