23 Years Later, Sabra and Shatila Remembered
September 14, 2005
Washington DC —September 16, marks 23 years since one of the bloodiest and most brutal massacres in recent history, the 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
Twenty-three years ago, shortly after the Israeli army seized control of West Beirut, Lebanon, right wing Phalangist militia forces, under the direction of Israeli forces, made their way into the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila located on the outskirts of the city. Once in the camps the militias massacred hundreds of defenseless men, women and children.
Israeli troops, who were in control of the area, allowed the militias into the camps, prevented the refugees from fleeing for their lives, and lit the night sky with a continuous series of flares as the killing raged for two days. The US had pulled its troops out of Beirut just days prior to the massacres, and had given a guarantee of protection to the residents of the refugee camps.
Following massive outrage and protest from the international community as well as from Israeli citizens, the Israeli government formed The Kahan Commision of Inquiry. The Commission found that Israel was responsible for participating in the violence and recommended the dismissal of the Army Chief of Staff. Rafual Eitan. Then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was also forced to resign after the Commission concluded that he bore personal responsibility for the massacre, and should never hold public office again. Sharon is now the Prime Minister of Israel.
ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, ” September 16 marks a very dark day in history. While we stop to remember the victims of the massacre, we should also think about the survivors and the millions of Palestinian refugees still living in refugee camps. On this sad day, we should reiterate our calls for a just and lasting peace to the ongoing conflict .”
To learn more, see the BBC’s documentary on the Sabra and Shatila massacre: