As was expected, the Palestinian leadership sitting in Ramallah and around the world did not make a mention of or remembers the massacre of some 5,000 Palestinians civilians massacred in Tel-Zaatar on August 12, 1976. A massacre committed by the Lebanese Maronite militia, the Phalanges, Etien Saqr (Guardian of the Cedar) a coalition backed and actively supported by non other than Hafiz Al-Assad and his Ba’athist Party.
The fall of Tel-Zaatar came about after more than 100 days of siege laid by the Maronite militias and of course with very active support from the Syrian Army. More than 1,500 civilians were killed during one day. The Syrian regime set the stage for what to come later in Sabra and Shatilla this time, it is the Israelis who provided the active support and participation in the massacre that took place during 15-18 September 1982.
The sad thing about it, the fact very few people within the illustrious PLO and Fatah ever talk about Tal-Zaatar and the active Syrian role in such massacre and as expected Hamas leadership, would never dare mention Tel-Zaatar lest it anger its sponsors sitting in Damascus. As Arafat and his PLO left Beirut, and to save their behinds, never looked back at the hundreds of thousands left behind, let alone the thousands massacred under written guarantees from the US government.
While the massacre at Tel-Zaatar was a Syrian sponsored enterprise, the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla where some 3,000 were massacred was an Israeli sponsored enterprise.
According to news report, the planning for such a massacre took place at noon on Thursday, September 16, at the Israeli Command Post between Israeli Major General Amir Drori (later awarded a scholarship from Harvard toward his PhD) the commander of North Command, Fady Frem, the Lebanese Forces Chief of Staff, Elias Hobieka, the Lebanese Forces Intelligence Chief (later elected as member of the Lebanese Parliament and in 1990 was appointed by Syria as a minister and member of the Lebanese cabinet).
The day before, on September 15th the Israeli Occupation Forces secured the camps of Sabra and Shatilla to facilitate the massacre by sealing and controlling the entrances and exists to the camps and providing transportation to the would be killers and murderers. Not only that but the Israeli Occupation Forces making sure the massacre continue on during all hours provided night flares to facilitate the continued killings.
For 3 days the Lebanese Christian Forces had a field day, using guns, knives and hatchets slitting throats, axing bodies, shooting and raping, while the Israeli Occupation Forces was monitoring all the communication among the killers and making sure the massacre was in full view of members of its forces. The report of the massacre was sent to Tel-Aviv and was seen by at least 20 senior staff member. Not only that but the Israeli Chief Staff aware of what was going on, concluded the “operation” should continue.
The news of the massacre and the active support of the Israeli Occupation Forces shocked the Israeli and on September 26, more than 400,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel-Aviv holding the largest ever demonstration to take place in Tel-Aviv.
To control the damage done to the reputation of its army, the Israeli cabinet on September 28th established a Commission of Inquiry headed by Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Kahan.
The Commission finding concluded that the Israeli Army bears indirect responsibility while the well known war criminal Ariel Sharon “bears personal responsibility” and recommended the dismissal of the Director of Military Intelligence Yehoshua Saguy, the demotion of the Division Commander Amos Yaron for at least 3 years.
As it happens, Israel voters and with strong support from the US Jewish community, Ariel Sharon, the well known war criminal was awarded for his role in Sabra and Shatilla and was voted in as prime minister adding to the list of terrorists and war criminals who became prime ministers in Israel. Some Israeli and Jewish apologist went further by calling those who complained about Israel’s role in the massacre as “blood libel” and the Princeton historian Bernard Lewis complained the world media gave too much attention to the massacre and making too much fuss over such a killing. It seems that more than 400,000 Israeli Jews did not agree with the views of the Princeton professor. Surprisingly I did not come across statement made by Allan Dershowitz the Harvard professor.
While Israel at least took the measure to form a Commission of Inquiry and did make a serious attempt at investigating the massacre, while making sure that Israel is not held directly liable for such massacre, not Syria, not Lebanon and certainly not the PLO ever organized a similar commission of inquiry and of course for obvious reasons. All do not have the courage or the backbone to take such a step. In fact Syria awarded the number one killer, the commander of the Christian Forces with the position of a minister, while the Lebanese awarded such a killer and a murderer a seat in parliament.
It is so outrageous and so shameful of Arabs and Muslims that none of the massacres committed within the Arab and Muslim world ever earned the right of an investigation. The massacre of over 25,000 Syrian in Hama did not even earn a mention in the Arab media. The massacre of tens of thousands of Kurds by Saddam Hussein did not earn a mention in the Arab press; the killing of tens of thousands of Iraqi Shiite by Saddam and his Ba’athist Party did not earn a mention in Arab media. The killing and murder of over 400,000 in Darfur was totally ignored by the Arab press until such time the world media took up the case and exposed such genocide. Not to mention the more than 2 million killed in South Sudan, and the hundreds of thousands killed by the Talibans, all where totally ignored by the Arab press and as expected by Arab and Muslim governments
More troublesome is the total silence of the Palestinian leadership from the late Yaser Arafat to the present Mahmoud Abbas who until today never bothered to form an inquiry into both massacres. Even Palestinians NGO’s never bothered to organize and independent investigations, perhaps fearing they may lose some funding from the US or the European countries.
Surprisingly, the UN General Assembly on December 16, 1982 declared the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla as an act of genocide. As expected All Western Democracies used to committing such massacres abstained.
The US and as expected when it comes to Israel could never honor any of its commitments, even written ones, such as the one it gave in writing to non other than Yaser Arafat. The US guarantee Israel will not enter West Beirut and make sure that no harms will come to Muslim habitants. We know the value of such written commitment, and the fact remains when it comes to Israel; the US has no sense of honor toward its own citizens and sailors let alone toward others like the Palestinians. One has only to remember that the US gave on a quick base over one million cluster bomb so that Israel can drop them over innocent civilians in Lebanon. Perhaps it is time to bring charges against the PLO, Lebanese Phalange,the US, Israel and Syria for liability in the case of the massacre of Sabra and Shatilla.