Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Palestinians of Sabra-Shatila: 26 years after the Massacre - Part One

A Very Good Piece

By Franklin Lamb
The Peoples Voice

".....On September 16, 2008, at precisely 10:30 am, Fairouz Husseini and a gathering of survivors, relatives and friends of the Sabra-Shatila massacre victims, some foreign delegations, students, NGO representatives, a few government officials, dignitaries, and members of the Camp community will gather outside the Kuwaiti Embassy roundabout, on the edge of Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp in Beirut, Lebanon.

Their assembly point will be less than 100 yards from where on September 16, 1982, Ariel Sharon, Gen. Raphael Eitan, Gen. Amos Yalon and their henchmen, Lebanese Phalange Intelligence operatives Elie Hobeika and Fadi Frem, had encouraged, organized, monitored, supplied, assisted directed and finally, when the World learned of the carnage, after 43 hours of carnage, initially denied knowing anything about it.....

Once the word was out in Beirut bout that Hobeika was considering turning on Sharon, he was assassinated en route to his lawyers office on January 24, 2002, by a method very similar to that used against Hezbollah military commander Hajj Radwan (Imad Mughienh) last February....
"Entire families were slain. Groups consisting of 10-20 people were lined up against wall and sprayed with bullets. Mothers died while clutching their babies. All men appeared to be shot in the back. Five youths of fighting age were tied to a pickup truck and dragged through the street before being shot" (LA Times, Sept. 20, 1982)........


Arafat knew better, he later admitted to this observer, than to tell Janet Stevens that the Camp residents would be protected by American guarantees, a written copy of which he carried in his shirt pocket and an argument he used on others to reassure the Popular Committees in the Camps and well as some of his colleagues. "Janet would have beaten me more", Arafat later admitted, as he smiled, "but perhaps she was right".

Another doubter of the wisdom of the catastrophic evacuation that left Shatila and the other Camps unprotected, was the PLO's number two, Khalil al- Wazir, (Abu Jihad), Arafat's most trusted Deputy.

The model of discretion, Abu Jihad remained tight lipped before the International media during the period under review but he spoke frankly and with sadness with fighters who came to ask, within hours of sailing, what he thought they should do, for many were undecided. Janet, like many, urged them to stay. Abu Jihad told them:

"I can't tell anyone to stay or leave…Our people are here, our children, in Shatila, in our camps, our hospitals and our schools; but I say to the one who stays that the Lebanese state isn't about to come and build him a house and offer him a salary. The state may imprison him, just like all the Arab regimes, we have to face that fact."

Then Abu Jihad became angry, an emotion he did not often exhibit, "For myself, I don't want to leave you alone, I'd like to stay with you, but this is what's happened, and those are our circumstances" (Sabra Shatila 1982, Bayan Al Hout, Pluto Press 2004).

The Camp residents' protection gone, the Massacre followed within days and the steep slope into abject poverty and despair for today's Palestinians resulted."

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