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Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Sabra-Shatila Massacre in Lebanon

... but what about the Shatila & Buraj-el Barajneh massacre?
But which massacre is the book referring to?


Just a few words as to why Israel went into Lebanon in 1982.

There was estimated to be a force of some 15-18,000 PLO fighters in various locations in southern Lebanon in 19982. Many of them were foreign mercenaries from Libya, Iraq, India, Sri Lanka, Chad and Mozambique.

In the 11 months before Israel went into Lebanon, the PLO had staged 270 terrorist actions in Israel, as well as in the West Bank and Gaza. In the Galilee area specifically, thousands of Israelis were forced to flee the frequent PLO attacks against their homes.

As the Secretary of State of the United States said at the time:

“No sovereign state can tolerate indefinitely the build-up along its borders of a military force dedicated to its destruction and implementing its objectives by periodic shellings and raids.”

The Sabra-Shatila and Shatila & Buraj-el Barajneh Massacres

Most people have heard of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. In stark contrast, have you heard of the Shatila and Burj-el Barajneh Refugee Massacre? Probably not. For a start, it was never christened “the Shatila and Burj-el Barajneh Massacre” by any Westerner in the first place. But that’s what it was.

It happened only three years later than the Sabra and Shatila massacre - in May 1985. It claimed more lives than those that died at the Sabra and Shatila camps. Not only that. More women and children were killed at the Shatila and Burj-el Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp. But it was Muslim (Shia) militiamen who killed the (Sunni) Muslim Palestinians and that explains why the left haven’t become monomaniacs about this event - as they have been about Sabra and Shatila.

Let’s get down to specifics.

According to UN officials, Muslim (Shiite) militiamen massacred 635 and wounded 2,500 more. That’s 175 more deaths (according to the Lebanese police; though Israeli figures are slightly higher) than were killed at the Sabra and Shatila camp (460 deaths). Not only that. Only 35 women and children were killed at Sabra and Shatila whereas most victims at the other Palestinian camp were women and children.

It was the Lebanese Phalangists who were responsible for the killings at Sabra and Shatila on September 16-17, 1982. Yes; Israeli troops did allow the Phalangists to enter the camps. It was their country after all. And if Israel had stopped them, they could have equally been accused of “imposing the will of Israel on the Lebanese people”. That’s precisely the sort of thing the Western left and Muslims often say about Israel’s actions in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.

More particularly, the Israelis had allowed the Phalangists to enter the camps as part of a plan to transfer authority to the Lebanese – unless Muslims and Western leftists would have wanted them to retain such authority in Lebanon?

Besides, Sabra and Shatila camps were hosting large amounts of terrorists who were dangerous to both the Israelis and to the native Lebanese. (Little is heard about the hell on earth the PLO created, in southern Lebanon, for Christians, as well as for Shia Muslims.) There were up to 200 Palestinian fighters in the camps. They had also built numerous bunkers and tunnels there and had a very large supply of weapons.
So who were the dead? As I said, according to one set of figures, the dead included 35 women and children. The rest were fighters. These also included imported Sunni fighters from Pakistan, Iran, Syria and Algeria.

As for the Phalangists themselves, they were taking revenge for the murder of the Lebanese President at the time, Bashir Gemayel (plus 25 of his followers), who had been killed in a bomb attack earlier that week.
Despite the Israeli’s not having direct responsibility for the killings, the Israelis, or rather the Israeli state (under pressure from Israelis), did assume partial responsibility for the massacre. The Israeli state set up the Kahan Commission of Inquiry which found that Israel was indirectly responsible “for not anticipating the possibility of Phalangist violence”. Israel instituted the panel’s recommendations, which included the sacking of Defence Minister Ariel Sharon and Gen. Raful Eitan, the Army Chief of Staff.

Not many states have ever allowed their own military, and its decisions, to be publicly investigated and castigated; least not so soon after the actual event. According to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the Kahan Commission was

“a great tribute to Israeli democracy… There are very few governments in the world that one can imagine making such a public investigation of such a difficult and shameful episode.”

More specifically, no socialist, Arab or Islamic state has ever come anywhere close to these self-censorious actions of the Israeli state when investigating and then castigating its own armed forces. 
Of course during the Lebanon War there were many other Muslim-on-Muslim outrages and massacres; none of them are ever mentioned, even in passing, by the contemporary Western left.

For example, during a two-year battle between the Shiite Amal militia (backed by Syria) and the PLO, more than 2000 people were killed; many of the civilians.

In October 1990, Syrian forces overrun Christian-controlled areas of Lebanon. In only eight hours, 700 Christians were killed. (Again, more than those who were killed at Sabra and Shatila.)

In the Lebanese Civil War as a whole, between 1975 and 1982, an estimated 95,000 people had been killed before Israel went into Lebanon in 1982.
Coming soon: ‘You’ve heard of Deir Yasin Massacre but what about the Hebron Massacre & the Massacre of 77 Jewish Nurses and Doctors?

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