Remembering Sabra and Shatilla
Today, September 18th , signifies the end of a 40-hour brutal murder , when serial killers in military garb tortured and massacred three thousand Palestinian refugee women children and elderly.
“Besides being shot dead, people were tortured before being killed, they were beaten brutally, electric wires were tied around their limbs, eyes were dug out, women were raped, often more than once and children were dynamited alive,” said a British medical doctor, who witnessed the result of the mass graves that were left behind.
Although it happened eighteen years ago, it serves as reminder to those who choose to forget the plight of the displaced Palestinians who were dispersed and put in cantons in different parts of the Arab world.
Israel never claimed direct responsibility for what happened in those forty bloody hours, and they were allowed to get away with it.
But in remembrance of Sabra and Shatilla let the facts speak for themselves.
In 1981 when the Israeli government, headed by Menahem Begin and Defense Minister Arial Sharon, was formed, they had one goal in mind, to erase Palestinian camps in Lebanon by any and all means.
On June 6th 1982, Israel crossed the international borders into Lebanon to push back, as it claimed to the American Administration, the (terrorist) forty kilometers back. Beginning that day, Israel bombarded Lebanon for forty consecutive days. At the end, a truce was called and under this the Palestinian fighters were allowed to leave with their arms.
The only people left behind were unarmed women, children, and old people who were to be under the ‘protection of the international forces’.
The Israeli army surrounded the Sabra and Shatilla camps with tanks, anyone trying to escape was shot.
On the 16th of September with the fall of night, the Israeli army, with the help of some Lebanese militias, carried out the carnage of women, children and elderly. By the end of the third morning what remained behind was the mass graves filled with almost three thousand bodies.
Israel wasn’t punished for the atrocities that it committed. Although there have been calls since the establishment of a criminal court to try those who were responsible for the crimes against humanity that took place in the camps, not much attention has been given to this demand. And it’s frighteningly ironic that Arial Sharon, who took the reign of command in 1982 is now the leader of the Likud party, and could be Prime Minister in the very near future.
So up to this point in time, Sabra and Shatilla remain only an unforgotten yet unresolved scar. Since then, peace treaties have been signed and handshakes have been traded. Although peace must be the ultimate answer, it cannot be at any cost, and it is understandable that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat stood his ground in regard to the issue of refugees, and the right of return.
Although a just solution will not heal the memory of the carnage, it will give hope to the 3.7 million Palestinian refugees, that the world community hasn’t disregarded their plight. It will also show that they are not just an unwanted body that is being dismembered and disposed of in parts to different countries.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)