21st Anniversary of Massacre of Palestinians at Sabra and Shatila
Washington, D.C., September 16 – Today, Sept. 16, marks the 21st anniversary of one of the bloodiest and most brutal massacres in recent history, the 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
On Sept. 16, 1982, shortly after Israeli troops operating at the direction of then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, seized control of west Beirut, right-wing Lebanese militia forces operating under the direction of Israeli forces massacred hundreds of defenseless men, women and children in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps on the outskirts of the city. Israeli troops were in full control of the area of Beirut in which the camps are located during the massacres. They allowed the militias into the camps, prevented refugees from fleeing for their lives, and lit the night sky with a continuous series of flares as the killing raged.
Even the Israeli government’s own commission of inquiry into the affair, the Kahan Commission, found that Israel, and specifically Ariel Sharon, were responsible for the massacre. Sharon was forced to resign as Defense Minister and the Commission recommend that he never again hold senior office in Israel. He is now Prime Minister of Israel.
Mary Rose Oakar, President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), said “It is vital that we never forget the Sabra and Shatila massacre, especially as the Palestinian people continue to struggle for their freedom. The massacre represents the ongoing suffering of the Palestinians and their vulnerability as a stateless people. It reminds us of how far some people have been willing to go in the brutality they have inflicted, and continue to inflict, on the Palestinians.”
Former Congresswoman Oakar added, “The massacre also demonstrates the tragedy of the exile of the Palestinian refugees, who have been excluded from their homeland for over 52 years, and the dangers they face. It underlines the need for a fair settlement of the refugee issue, as part of the creation of a genuine, just and lasting peace.”