Survivors of Sabra and Shatilla massacre still demanding justice

Twenty three years after their relatives and friends were killed in the Sabra and Shatilla camps in Lebanon, survivors still want Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon to be punished—with calls for the international case brought against him in 2001 in Belgium be revisited.

  • E-Mail
By  Massoud A. Derhally Published  January 15, 2006

Twenty three years after their relatives and friends were killed in the Sabra and Shatilla camps in Lebanon, survivors still want Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon to be punished—with calls for the international case brought against him in 2001 in Belgium be revisited. “I would love it if he be tried and punished for the crimes he committed, rather than he dies without being punished - because what happened to us is not insignificant…he deprived us of our parents,” Nawal Abu Rudeina a 30-year-old survivor of the massacres who resides in the Shatilla camp told Arabian Business. “We want Israel and Sharon to be tried…enough of this injustice…we are asking for the bare minimum, a homeland for our people,” added Abu Rudeina who lost most of her relatives in the 1982 massacre that took place during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. “We had 11 relatives who were killed in the massacre; my cousins, my aunt, my father and sister. When Sharon in conjunction with the Christian Phalange Forces came to the camps, we were staying in a small house. They came in from the roof and were saying there were terrorists in the house. I was seven and my brother was four years old. Our life has been a misery and it still is,” explained Abu Rudeina, her voice trembling. “They entered under the pretext that there were terrorists in our homes and camps. My father was never part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization or a militia. We started to hear screaming and my father began to tell my mother that’s it we’re dead. He started to recite a-shahada [the testimony of faith that “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his messenger.”] “They came and grabbed him from his shirt and took the young boys in the room and lined them up on the wall and killed with an axe…they cut my pregnant sister's stomach while she was alive and took the baby and strangled it.” Christian militiamen from the Lebanese Phalange party killed an estimated 3,500 Palestinians over three days (Sept. 16-18, 1982) in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla, while Israeli soldiers under the command of Sharon sealed off the two camps. At same the time, Israeli soldiers occupied Beirut and allowed Phalange militia members to enter the camps. The massacre that took the lives of men, women and children is one of the worst war crimes committed during the 15 year Lebanese civil war. The United Nations Security Council passed resolution 521 condemning the massacres. Chibli Mallat, the prominent Lebanese law professor who is currently running for Lebanon’s presidency led an unsuccessful campaign to indict Sharon on war crimes charges for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in Belgium in 2001. He believes there may still be a chance to re-launch the case against the ailing Israeli prime minister. “The case was stopped by retroactive legislation and we weren’t able to re-launch but it might launch elsewhere or even in Belgium under different legal considerations,” Mallat told Arabian Business. “I belong to a generation that believes in international criminal law as being very important for a new form of international relations—the idea of justice, which we see today so importantly in the case of Hariri. It’s part of the same atmosphere that is around cases like Pinochet’s and the case against Saddam Hussein. Mass political crimes should be subjected to judicial review because otherwise it is war,” Mallat explained. The lawyer believes that if Sharon dies Sabra and Shatilla will cast an eternal stain on his record in history. “Sharon will be remembered in the same breathe as Sabra and Shatilla, as being personally responsible. Ultimately justice was not served for the victims of Sabra and Shatilla,” he said. The Israeli Kahan Commission that investigated the massacres recommended the removal of Sharon in 1983 when he was Minister of Defense. In its closing remarks, the commission said: “We have found, as has been detailed in this report, that the Minister of Defense [Ariel Sharon] bears personal responsibility. In our opinion, it is fitting that the Minister of Defense draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his office—and if necessary, that the Prime Minister…may, after informing the Cabinet of his intention to do so, remove a minister from office.” As Arabian Business went to press last week, Sharon remained critical.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code