In Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre
September 16-18 marks the 40th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, a horrific war crime directed by zionist military forces who had invaded Lebanon in June 1982 in order to drive out the PLO. The Sabra and Shatila refugee camps were populated by Palestinian communities expelled from Jaffa in May, 1948 during the Nakba, whose 75th anniversary we will mark in the coming year.
From June through August 1982, zionist military forces encircled the PLO (who had been driven out of Jordan in 1970 by King Hussein with zionist support), killing 17,825 people and destroying the Ain al-Hilwa camp—home to over 40,000 refugees. In August, the PLO was forced into an agreement to evacuate all 11,000 fighters on the ground from Beirut and to dismantle its headquarters and infrastructure.
On August 23, Bashir Gemayel, leader of the zionist-backed Phalangists, was elected Lebanese president. Gemayel died on September 14 in a car bombing that zionists blamed on the PLO, but was later traced to a Syrian agent.
On Sept. 15, zionist military leaders and Phalangist commanders planned the invasion of the Palestinian refugee camps, sharing arial photographs. By noon, zionist forces had surrounded the camps with checkpoints and roadblocks, and began shelling.
On September 16, the zionist cabinet was told their military would not enter the camps, but that the Phalangists would be sent in “with their own methods.” At 4 p.m., 1,500 Phalange militiamen invaded the camps in zionist-supplied jeeps, following route markings painted by zionist military on the sides of buildings. At sunset, militia began entering homes, slitting throats, shooting, raping, taking groups outside, and lining them up for execution, aided through the night by floodlights from the zionist military.
On Sept. 17, word of the massacres spread via escaped refugees, medical personnel, and film crews. Exits were now blocked by zionists. Zionists allowed the Phalange to continue “mopping up” until 5 a.m. on Sept. 18. Bulldozers began digging mass graves inside the camps and hauling away bodies. Others were buried under houses designated as “illegal structures” and bulldozed with people inside. Phalangist militia attacked Akka Hospital, where victims of the massacre were being treated, killing doctors and nurses.
At 6 a.m. on Sept. 18, surviving camp residents were ordered over loudspeakers to exit their homes and surrender. Up to one thousand were marched at gunpoint toward a camp exit, with some taken out of line and executed, while others were loaded onto trucks and never seen again. At 7 a.m., Phalange militia attacked Gaza Hospital, killing the Arab staff. At 9 a.m., foreign journalists and diplomats entered the camp, finding hundreds of bodies, many mutilated. Just past noon, the first news of the genocidal massacre was broadcast to the world.