I home school my daughter and this is her history lesson for today, as I doubt that this will ever be taught in her official history books. This Friday, we will be praying for the men, women and children who were massacred 29 years ago.
The June 6th 1982 invasion of Lebanon (codenamed Operation Peace of the Galilee) by Israeli forces was ordered in response to the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Shlomo Argov by the Abu Nidal Organization. Lebanon had, after the 1948-49, become the home to around 100,000 Palestinian refugees who had fled from their homes. By the early 1980s, this number had grown to about 300,000, with the PLO establishing their own area of control in southern Lebanon. In August 1982, negotiations were conducted, conducted by an American envoy, on the principle of an evacuation of the Palestinian fighters and PLO officials and the dismantlement of PLO offices and infrastructures in Lebanon. The American envoy, led by Philip Habib, guaranteed security to the Palestinian civilians that were to remain in the camps after the PLO's departure.
- From Sept. 16 to 18th, 1982, and in cooperation with the Israeli military, Lebanese Christian Phalangists (Kataeb) murdered anywhere from 1000 to 3000 unarmed Palestinians living in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The Kataeb were seeking revenge for the September 14th assassination of their leader, President-elect, Bashir Gameyal.
- Countless others were raped, tortured, and terrorized. Hundreds more were rounded up and loaded onto trucks, driven away and never heard from again. Many were never accounted for, being buried under the rubble of demolished buildings.
- The death toll may have been higher than 9/11.
- No one has ever stood on trial for this massacre, key witnesses involved in the massacre have died in individual attacks.
- By the end of the summer of 1982, nearly 18,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians had been killed, most of them in Israeli air strikes on civilian targets.
But in Beirut, the victims were Palestinians. The guilty were certainly Christian militiamen – from which particular unit we were still unsure – but the Israelis were also guilty. If the Israelis had not taken part in the killings, they had certainly sent militia into the camp. They had trained them, given them uniforms, handed them US army rations and Israeli medical equipment. Then they had watched the murderers in the camps, they had given them military assistance – the Israeli Airforce had dropped all those flares to help the men who were murdering the inhabitants of Sabra and Chatila – and they had established military liaison with the murderers in the camps – Robert Fisk
Maybe when she is old enough I will have her watch the documentaries and read the rest of this description of what journalist Robert Fisk saw in the September of 1982.
Here is a link from the BBC report of September 17th, 1982.
Footage from 1982- (disclaimer: very gruesome scenes)
Testimony of Journalists covering the massacre
The BBC Panorama documentary about Sabra & Shatila