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Report: Israel’s Ariel Sharon was directly involved in Sabra, Shatila massacre

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Ariel Sharon, Israel’s prime minister at the time, looks at the West Bank town of Nablus during a November 2002 visit to the Tel Fares observation point. (Photo by AP)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was directly involved in massacring Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps four decades ago, a new report confirms.

Still remembered as one of the most horrific crimes committed by the Israeli regime, the Sabra and Shatila Massacre was carried out on September 16, 1982, when Christian Phalangist militias armed by Israel stormed into the Palestinian refugee camps in the west of the Lebanese capital of Beirut and brutally killed up to 3,500 civilians, including many women and children.

On September 15, the Israeli military besieged Sabra and Shatila and had its tanks positioned to shell the camps before tasking some 1,500 Phalangist militiamen with “searching and mopping up the camps” a day later, which led to the killing of Palestinians during the next 43 hours, from 6 p.m. local time at sundown on Thursday, September 16, until 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 18.

The Israelis fired flares throughout the night to light up the killing field – thus allowing the militias to see their way through the narrow alleys of the camps.  

Despite Israel’s attempts to conceal its involvement in the massacre, Sharon, the then minister for military affairs, was the key figure in the whole three-day operation, from ordering to shell Sabra and Shatila to unleashing Phalangist militiamen in the refugee camps.

A new report by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth unveiled an account that strongly confirms the occupying regime’s involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacre in collaboration with the Lebanese al-Kataeb militia led by Bashir Gemayel, the website of Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Manar television network said on Saturday.

The Kataeb Party – known in English as the Phalanges or the Lebanese Phalanges Party – is a Christian political party in Lebanon. Its militia was the largest and best organized political paramilitary force in Lebanon. It is estimated, when fully mobilized at the time of the massacre, the Phalange had 5,000 militiamen, of whom 2,000 were full-time.

At the time, the leader of the Kataeb Party was Bashir Gemayel, the president-elect of Lebanon and the leader of the Lebanese Forces, who was assassinated on September 14 that year when an explosion rocked the Party's headquarters in the Achrafieh area of Beirut.

The Phalangists sought revenge, claiming that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was responsible for Gemayel’s assassination.

According to the new report, the military commanders in the Israeli occupation army and Kataeb held meetings to coordinate the massacre.

The Israeli daily said based on documents secured by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin approved Sharon’s plan to attack the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut.

The documents further revealed a coordination meeting between Kataeb officials and the Israeli commanders was held in the Lebanese capital two days after the massacre to mull the means of concealing the Israeli involvement.

Back in 1984, Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk depicted in his book “Sabra and Shatila: Inquiry into a Massacre” the harrowing scenes of the massacre.

“The massacre began immediately, and lasted for forty hours without stop.... In the first hour, the gunmen killed hundreds of people; they were shooting at anything that moved in the alleys. They broke down front doors and wiped out entire families eating dinner. Some families were murdered in bed, still wearing their pajamas. In many homes, children, three or four years old, were found in their pajamas, and blood-soaked blankets.... In many cases, the attackers dismembered their victims before killing them. They crushed the heads of children and babies against walls. Women and girls were raped before they were slaughtered with hatchets. Often, men were dragged out of their homes to be quickly and collectively executed in the street with hatchets and knives. The militants spread terror as they indiscriminately slaughtered men, women, children and the elderly.... A woman's arm was found chopped off at the wrist so that her jewelry could be stolen,” he said.

After the Phalangists had finished their orgy of killing, the bodies of dead children littered the streets like discarded dolls, with bullet holes in the back of their heads.

As the bloodbath concluded, Israel supplied bulldozers to dig mass graves. In 1983, Israel’s investigative Kahan Commission found that Ariel Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for the slaughter.

Four decades on, Israel continues implementing its policy of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. 

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