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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

CHAPTER TEN Part 3 of 3


11.45 a.m. General Drori met at Amos Yaron's office with the Phalangist commander in Beirut, Fadi Frem and Elias Hobeika, intelligence chief of the Phalange, "to coordinate the entrance of the Phalange units into the Shatila camp." It was decided that 150 Phalangist fighters would enter the two camps. Drori asked Frem if his men were ready to enter Sabra and Shatila. Frem answered, "Yes, immediately." Both Frem and Hobeikacommented that there would be a "kasah" (chopping) in the camps. According to Sharon's Knesset speech on September 20, "The conclusion was that a military force would enter the Shatila camp from the South and West to mop up terrorists." Sharon also reported they had told the Phalange to take action only against "terrorists". (Editor's note: Earlier versions from the Israeli Army and government stated that the Israeli Army had not encircled the refugee areas, but had held the positions only to the north, south and west and that the killer militia had entered unseen from the unguarded east.)

12.00 noon. Casualties with high-velocity gunshot wounds began arriving at Gaza Hospital.

Approximately noon. The municipal council which governs the camps sent five elderly men delegates with white flags to negotiate with the Israeli units near the Kuwaiti embassy. Four of the men were killed. They were Harnid Ismail (age 55), Ahmed Said (age 65), Abou Soueid (age 62) and Tawfik Hachmeh (age 64).

2.00 p.m. Lebanese officers at Beirut Airport reported seeing two Israeli C 130 Transports arrive and unload vehicles and men, some of whom were identified as Haddad militiamen.

3.00 p.m. General Amos Yaron, commander of the Israeli forces in Beirut, met with Hobeika and Frem of the Phalangists. They looked over aerial photographs furnished by Israel. They pinpointed that the Israelis would give all necessary assistance "in order to eliminate the terrorists in the camps."

Drori telephoned Sharon and told him, "Our friends are advancing into the camps. I have coordinated their entry with the top men." Sharon answered, "Felicitations, the operation of our friends is approved."

General Yaron later stated to the Israeli Commission investigating the massacres that he was so concerned about the possibility of slaughter of civilians that he "placed observation posts as close as possible to the area of their operations" and had "agents listenin on Phalangisr radio communication~.'~

3.00 p.m. Choueifat residents reported seeing Phalangists and possibly Haddad forces on the road to Beirut airport.

The group of about 300 Phalangists met again and were obliged to swear an oath to their militia commander never to talk to anybody about the "operation".

According to Der Spiegel of February 2 1, 1983, several Israelis wearing Phalange uniforms joined the Phalange unit. One of the Phalange officers told his men: "Our Israeli friends are going with you. They are also volunteers. They haven't told their army what they are doing. They will make your task easier.''

An officer of the Phalange maintained contact with the Israelis at the entrance to the camp. A man wearing a mask led the unit to a slope close to the abandoned Embassy of Kuwait. The order was given "Iqfiz" (hop off).

4.00 p.m. A unit of 150 Phalangists assembled near the airport moved across Quzai along Henri-Chehab Boulevard to the general quarters of the Lebanese Army in the abandoned United Nations building. They were watched from across the road from the seven-story Israeli observation post. This building was 500 meters from the main road running through Sabra and Shatila camps.

4.00 p.m. The Israeli soldiers manning the barricades at the entrances to Shatila camp received orders on their walkietalkie, to allow the Phalangist forces in.

4.10 p.m. Twenty-five jeeps filled with Phalangist militia passed by Bir Hassan toward the Kuwaiti embassy. Alarmed camp residents approached Israeli officers, who told them to return to their homes and that they had nothing to fear.

5.00 p.m. London Times and other correspondents observed Phalangists setting up a command post at the Lebanese University building west of Shatila.

Between 5.00 and 5.15 p.m. Three killer units of approximately 50 men each entered the camps. The leaders of the groups included Michel Zouein, a close aid to Hobekia, and Marun Mishalai, a Phalangist commander in East Beirut. The groups included Deb Anastas' Military Police, Joseph Edde7s Black Beret Commandos, Elie Hobeika's Special Security Unit, and the Damour Brigade which included fighters from Saadiyat and Nameh. Two routes were used. One entered exactly in front of the Israeli observation post (diagonally across the street from the Kuwaiti embassy) into the Arsal Section of Shatila. This advance unit was led by Hobeika, Hobeika himself did not enter the camp with his men, but joined the Israelis in the forward command post. The other entered from the main road in the camp to the Horch Tabet Section. A majority of the units entering the camps consisted of Phalangist Lebanese Forces and several Phalange military police and at least a few dozen men from Saad Haddad's forces driving in jeeps supplied by the Israelis. (After first denying any involvement, Saad Haddad later told an Israeli press conference that some of his men could have been working with the Phalangists. Washington Post correspondent Loren Jenkins, an Israeli television reporter, and dozens of inhabitants of Choueifat, a neighborhood near the airport, claimed they saw a convoy of Haddad's forces moving toward the airport from the south. Moreover, several journalists and diplomats reported seeing Haddad's men the day following the massacres mingling with Israeli soldiers throughout West Beirut.)

At 5.30 p.m. Artillery flares from Israeli howitzers and aircraft are dropped on the camps. While the sky was not yet dark, the alleyways were becoming dark and the flares made the area as light as day.

5.30 p.m. Additional bands of militia in the Shatila camp conducted the first massacres in the section of the camp called Arsal in front of and perhaps 100 meters from the Israeli observation post.

Almost immediately, the Israeli soldiers who had encircled and sealed off the camps were besieged by hysterical, screaming Palestinian women mnning from the refugee neighborhoods and telling of the massacre. These women were prevented from leaving the camps by the encircling Israeli Army. West and south of the camps, Israeli tanks were placed every 100 to 200 meters. Reports of a massacre in the camps were immediately relayed to officers and transmitted along the Israeli command chain.

5.30 p.m. A man aged 55 was brought to Akka Hospital outside the Shatila camp after being forced out of his house and shot in the street. At least one doctor suspected that a slaughter was taking place.

Further evidence that the massacre began came from Gaza Hospital where one of the early victims was Milad Faruk, aged 1 1. He had gunshot wounds in the arms and legs and had a finger shot off. His parents and younger brother were already dead. The family was watching television when Christian militiamen kicked down the door of their house and opened fire.

7.00 p.m. An hour after Phalangists had entered the camps, an Israeli lieutenant identified only as Elul, an aide to the division commander, General Y aron, "overheard a conversation that took place over the Phalangist transmitter" that was being monitored in the Israeli forward command post. According to Lieutenant Elul's testimony, he "heard a Phalangist officer from the force that had entered the camp tell Hobeika that there were 50 women and children and what should he do." Lieutenant Elul testified that Hobeika's reply over the radio was, "This is the last time you're going to ask me a question like that, you know exactly what to do." Lieutenant Elul said that at that point, "raucous laughter broke out among the Phalangist personnel on the roof." The Israeli officer said that he understood that what was involved was the murder of women and children, and told Yaron.

7.00 p.m. Another radio communication indicated that 45 people who were captured were to be killed.

Between 7.00 and 8.00 p.m. Israeli soldiers from a mortar unit fired 8 1 mm flares at the rate of two per minute into the camps. The flares continued throughout Thursday night and Friday night. Some flares were also dropped by aircraft. Throughout the night, Israeli observers, 200 meters from the center of the killing, watched the massacre with infrared binoculars, which essentially convert the night to day for the viewer.

Approximately 7.00 p.m. Sharon met with Morris Draper, who requested that the Israelis leave Beirut. Sharon refused.

Approximately 8.00 p.m. A Phalange liaison officer "told various people" that about 300 people had already been killed by the Phalangists (later he reduced it to 120). About an hour later the divisional intelligence officer of the IDF presented his "intelligence survey" in which he said, "The impression is that their (the Phalangists') fighting is not too serious. They have casualties, as you know - two wounded, one in the leg and hand. ..And they, it turns out, are pondering what to do with the population they are finding inside. On the other hand, it seems, there are no terrorists there, in the camps; Sabra camp is empty. On the other hand, they have amassed women, children, and apparently also old people." He also reported the 7 p.m. radio communication from a Phalange officer indicating that these people should be killed.

At a meeting between Yaron and an Israeli intelligence officer who had been inside the camps, the officer stated "there are no terrorists in the camp. The Sabra camp is empty ."

Several hours later the Israeli Cabinet issued the following statement: c'Following the assassination of President-elect Bashir Gemayel, the I.D.F. took positions in West Beirut in order to prevent the danger of violence, bloodshed and anarchy, while about 2,000 terrorists, equipped with modem and heavy weapons, remained in West Beirut, thus blatantly violating the departure agreement."

9.30 p.m. Sharon later acknowledged, "The word revenge also appeared I would say, in discussions among us," and he conceded that he had known that the Phalangists "tended toward creating conditions so that eventually the Palestinians would leave Lebanon."

10.00 p.m. An American army truck which the Israelis had given the militia was boarded and driven near the circular flower bed at Beirut International Airport. At that location next to the Israeli position several trucks were parked.

Afternoon. According to the Phalange participants in the massacre, noted above, "During Thursday evening after the killing had started, soon I saw the Israeli advisers who had been at our secret planning session. One of them had a radio and told us to retreat to the entrance of the camp. A few minutes later Israeli artillery sent a massive barrage of fire over to the part of the camp that was resisting. When we advanced again the Israeli shot flares to help us distinguish friend and foe."

Approximately 10.00 p.m. According to General Yaron, Israeli soldiers under his command monitored a radio conversation between a Phalangist militiaman in the field and his commander. Asking for advice on the camp operation, the militiaman was told to "do what God commands you."

At approximately 10.00 p.m. Israeli Army Lieutenant Avi Gabowski (a tank commander) later testified that he saw Phalangists killing civilians and one of them told him "pregnant women give birth to terrorists." He reported this incident to his superior.

10.12 p.m. IDF Radio monitored by the BBC, announced that Israeli control over the coastal axis, from the airfield in the south to the port in the north, was total. After referring to pockets of resistance to the IDF troops, the report said: "The intention is that the IDF will not operate tonight to purge the areas of Sabra and Shatila and nearby camps. It was decided to entrust the Phalangists with the mission of carrying out these purging operations."

11.00 p.m. The Phalangist commander of the troops in Shatila reported to General Yaron, "Until now, 300 civilians and terrorists have been killed." This report was immediately given to Eitan and more than 20 high-ranking officers in Tel Aviv. Despite this report, which was confirmed on Sept. 24, 1982 by Jerusalem Post military correspondent Hirsch Goodman, and those who received it, the massacre continued until late Saturday morning. (General Yaron later said this report convinced him that more than "fighting against the terrorists was going on." He contacted the Phalangist commander staff, but stated he didn't forward the report to Commanding Officer Drori).

Toward Nightfall. An indefinite curfew was imposed in all areas under Israeli control, including Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

During Thursday Night, Eighty-two wounded persons from Shatila made their way to Gaza Hospital. The route to Akka Hospital, which was closer, was blocked by Israeli forces. Some of the injured were wounded in the massacre and some by the shelling by the Israeli Army earlier in the afternoon.

During Thursday Night. Between 1,000 and 2,000 persons from Sabra and Shatila, in a state of panic, sought refuge in Gaza Hospital.

Midnight. The Israeli Cabinet met in extraordinary session. The minutes of the Cabinet meeting showed no dissent from thedecision to send the Phalange into the camps. Deputy Prime Minister David Levy and General Eitan spoke of possible Phalangist revenge against Palestinians. According to the minutes of the Cabinet meeting, Eitan predicted "the outbreak of acts of revenge ... It will be an outburst the likes of which we have not seen. I already see in their eyes what they are waiting for ...." This same report was made by Jerusalem Post correspondent Hirsch Goodman. Eitan reported on the West Beirut situation, including limited engagements with Muslim militias such as Al-Mourabitoun. He offhandedly mentioned that the Phalangists entered the refugee camps in order to "mop up nests of terrorists." He added that the Phalangist activities were completely coordinated with those of the Israeli Army. During the four-hour discussion of West Beirut, approximately three minutes were devoted to the Phalangists being sent into the camps.

Friday, September 17

Shortly past 1.00 a.m. Israeli Army radio announced that the Israeli Army was leaving the "cleansing of the camps" to the Phalange.

4.00 a.m. According to the Phalange participant in the massacre, noted above, "At about four in the morning my unit went back to the truck. Apparently only one truck had been used at the time. We went back to the entrance of Hadath to sleep. At dawn we went back to the camp. We passed corpses, fell overcorpses, shot at and bayonettedeyewitnesses .... Then the first bulldozer of the Israeli Army arrived. 'Plow everything under the ground, kill all eyewitnesses, everything has to go very fast,' a Phalange officer ordered."

4.00 a.m. The same Israeli mortar unit which fired the flares Thursday and Friday night fired several 155 mrn high explosive and phosphorus shells into the camps.

5.30 a.m. Israeli Military Intelligence Officer Moshe Hevroni received the report that 300 were dead and had his aide forward the report to Sharon's office. (At Sharon's office, Lieutenant Colonel Reuvan Fai, an officer in the Israeli National Security Unit, reported that he passed it to Sharon's civilian aide, Avi Dudai, at 1 1.00 A.M. Dudai denies receiving their report.)

Early Friday Morning According to Israeli Colonel Eli Geva, he saw Israeli soldiers and officers watching from their observation post the piling of bodies, and the execution of civilians. During this period, the Israelis from time to time gave food and water to the militiamen across their barricades in front of Shatila. Rumors of a massacre began to spread through the IDF units.

At about the same time, several journalists learned of the massacre in progress and Zeev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha'aretz, contacted several Israeli officials, including Minister of Communications Mordechai Zippori. Zippori telephoned Foreign Minister Shamir and reported a massacre was taking place in the refugee camps of West Beirut. Zippori, whose personal relations with Sharon were not good, urged Shamir to find out from Sharon exactly what was going on in the camps.

(Sharon told the Knesset on September 22, "When we first had doubts about what was going on in the camps, the Commander of the North Front Drori immediately took measures to stop the action of the Phalangists at Shatila .... We put an end to the Phalangist activity towards Friday, noon, and we definitely evacuated them towards Saturday noon." In reality, the massacre activity continued all day and all night until Saturday morning. During this period, fresh Phalangist troops entered the camps.)

Approximately 6.00 a.m. Israeli tank commander Gabowski saw Phalangist militiamen kill a group of five women and children. His tank crew informed the Israeli regimental commander who told them "not to intervene."

During the morning of September 17, 1982, Captain Moshe Sinai reported to Lieut. Col. Gai, that "300 civilians have been killed in the camps." Gai reacted with the words, "Listen, that's very interesting - I spoke with the minister during the night, and I'll go talk with him in a little while; the story is very interesting, and the minister will be very happy to hear the report." (Between 12.30 and 3.00 p.m., Lt. Col. Gai reported this information to Avi Dudai at the Ministry of Defense, a personal aide to Sharon.)

Approximately 11.00 a.m. The Phalangists asked for more ammunition to be sent into the camp as well as fresh soldiers to replace those who were tired. Yaron agreed with Hobeika that two more battalions of militiamen could enter the camps, but only one entered. He later stated that the new supplies were sent into the camps between "1 1.00 a.m. and 2.00 or 3.00 p.m."

Approximately 11.00 a.m. Yaron met with Drori and raised suspicions concerning Phalangist activities inside the camps.

Approximately 11.00 a.m. and noon. Akka Hospital, located just across the street from Shatila camp, was invaded by a killer unit and several of the wounded were killed in their beds including 14-year-old Moufid Asad. Several staff members also were killed and some, including Dr. Sami Katib were taken away and never returned. Intissar Ismail, a 19- year-old Palestinian nurse, was repeatedly raped by Saad Haddad forces and her body mutilated so completely that the only means of recognition was the ring on her finger. A Lebanese colleague at Akka confirmed this event and some of the conversation of her killers. Two other nurses were taken and one was raped 10 times and then killed.

11.05 a.m. Communications Minister Zippori telephoned Shamir to forward a report that "the Phalangists are massacring" in the camps. At 12.00 noon, Shamir met with Sharon and top generals, but claims he did not mention the reports of the massacre to Sharon.

About 11.30 a.m. Three large Phalangist trucks and two smaller pick-ups were loaded with men, women, and children and left the camps toward the south. These trucks passed Israeli units in front of the camps. This activity was filmed by Danish television cameraman Flint Pederson. Residents of Choueifat and Hadath, south of the camps, reported the trucks passed their area heading south.

Also on the Danish film can be seen an elderly man, a Mr. Nouri, being turned back with other civilian into Shatila.

Some 24 hours later Robert Fisk of The London Times saw Mr. Nouri lying dead near the main road running through the camp.

According to The New York Times of January 30,1983, "Palestinian and independent medical sources in Beirut stated that several hundred men rounded up by the militias in Sabra and Shatila were turned over to the Israelis and were in detention in Israeli prison at Ansar."

Approximately 11.45 a.m. Drori called the Army Chief of Staff Eitan with news of the massacre. Eitan told Drori that he was coming to Beirut.

About 11.45 a.m. Residents in the Bourg el-Brajneh camp near Shatila reported seeing Christian militiamen bringing people out of Shatila on to the main road. This was within sight of Israeli positions. About 100 Palestinians were separated from the Lebanese and made to squat on the road, where they were interrogated, their faces being slashed by bayonets to force areply. All this went on in sight of an Israeli position beside the Kuwaiti Embassy.

Approximately noon. Shamir and Sharon met with U.S. envoy Moms Draper and urged him to pressure the Lebanese government into sending its army into the camps. According to Draper, neither Shamir nor Sharon told what both of them knew - that for more than 12 hours the Phalangist had been engaged in a massacre.

Beginning in late morning, at least three Israeli bulldozers entered the camps and groups of militia prepared mass graves in order to hide the bodies. Throughout the afternoon and night, they also destroyed houses. One grave was dug below the Israeli observation post as Israeli soldiers watched.

In early afternoon, Yaron spoke to Colonel Agmon, the Phalangist liaison officer, and was told that Phalange militiamen were killing women and children. Yaron did not inform Drori or Eitan during their meeting.

3.30 p.m. Eitan arrived at Beirut Airport. He saw the Phalangist troops and spoke with some of their leaders.

4.00 p.m. A Norwegian diplomat named Gunnar Flakstad while trying to get through to the Norwegian doctors at Gaza and Akka Hospitals observed that the scoop of one of the bulldozers was filled with bodies.

Midafternoon. Approximately 400 civilians seeking to escape the massacre and carrying a white flag approached Israeli soldiers. According to Time Magazine, (October 4, 1982), "They were turned back to the camps at gunpoint." The civilians said the massacres were taking place.

4.00 p.m. At the checkpoint outside Shatila in front of the Kuwaiti embassy, Israeli soldiers lounged among militiamen and gave them food and water. One Israeli soldier present later reported, "We were giving the men some rest before they went back in."

4.30 p.m. Eitan again met with Drori and Fadi Frern, the head of the Phalangist forces in East Beirut. According to Drori, Eitan congratulated the Phalangists on their smooth military operations inside the camps. Eitan explained to Frem that the Americans had asked him "to stop the operations in the camps." (An interesting revelation that the pressure to stop the massacre came from U.S. not Israeli authorities -ed.) Frem asked Eitan "for more time in order to clean them out." Eitan agreed and reversed Drori's earlier order to stop and allowed the Phalangists to remain in the camps until 5.00 a.m. Saturday morning. While both sides agreed that the "operation" (i.e. massacre) could continue until Saturday morning, they agreed that other supplementary Phalangists units were not to enter the camps. However, fresh troops were sent into the camps. This decision gave the Phalangists 13 more hours of killing. In reality the killing continued for approximately 17 more hours.

Contrary to what Drori claimed they agreed to, the Hobeika unit and fresh Phalangist troops entered the camps and continued their killings.

Reuters correspondent Paul Eddie interviewed an Israeli colonel during Friday afternoon who told him that two principles had guided the refugee camp operations: "That the Israeli Army should not become involved and that the area needed to be purified."

During the late morning, Ron Ben Yishai, military correspondent for Israeli television, followed a group of Phalangists, who stated that they were on a military mission from East Beirut to the Beirut Airport. There he saw units of Phalangists with Israeli uniforms - with the Israeli inscription replaced with one reading "Lebanese forces." He also saw several (some witnesses counted 1 1-ed.) U.S. - supplied Sherman M-47 and T-54 tanks, as well as 120 mrn guns, 13 military trucks, and command cars. The clothing and helmets were spread on the ground, being delivered to the Phalangists by the Israeli Army. Several journalists present spoke with the Phalangists, who left no doubt about their mission. "We are going to kill them, we are going to fuck their mothers and their sisters," the journalists were told, according to Ben Yishai. Israeli correspondent Alex Fishman has reported that several of the militia took alcohol with them and one told him "before going I must take a good supply of hashish."

Approximately 5.15 p.m. Approximately 200 militiamen prepared to leave the airport for the camps. Eitan, Drori, and several Israeli officers arrived from their meeting with Fadi Frem. Eitan spoke with several Israeli and Phalangist officers and then piloted an airplane to Ramat-David airport in Israel and then to his home at Tel Acachim.

At 9.00 p.m., according to Sharon, Eitan called him and stated "Hem higzimu." ("They went wild.")

According to a report on Israeli television, Sharon was awakened Friday evening by a telephone call from military correspondent Ron Ben Yishai, who reported about the massacre. According to Ben Yishai, Sharon replied "Happy New Year."

Sharon said he telephoned Beirut following this call, but his subordinates advised him the massacre was over. (Editor's note: In fact, the massacre continued throughout the night for approximately another ten hours.)

Saturday, September 18

Between midnight Friday and approximately 8.00 or 9.00 a.m. Saturday. The massacre continued unabated with over 200 militiamen in the camps killing whomever they could find, with the realization that they had been directed by the Israelis to leave the camps by early morning. According to eyewitnesses, most of the killing took place between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Between 6.00 and 7.00 a.m. Several Phalangist militiamen entered Gaza Hospital and forced medical staff - some 20 individuals from England, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and the United States - to assemble outside. (According to Norwegian orthopedic surgeon Per Maehlumshagen who was present and is familiar with the distinction between troops of Saad Haddad and Phalangist troops - having served in South Lebanon - most of the group was Haddad forces.) Arab staff members were shot. The group was marched down towards the entrance of Shatila while gunmen hurled abuse at them. A Palestinian Laboratory technician who had been trying to walk with them was pulled away by the militia, who said: "Come with us." Dr. Maehlumshagen asked "what are you going to do with him?" but a gunman replied, "It's none of your business. You have your job to do and we have ours." The Palestinian was marched down an alley and behind a house. A burst of gunfire followed - and the Palestinian did not return.

A gunman told the frightened medical staff: "We believe in the Geneva Convention. We'll show you how we treat our prisoners." Then a jeep drew up with a terrified Palestinian teenager on board, his cheek bleeding from a number of cuts. "Who are you?" a gunman demanded. "I am a Palestinian," the teenager replied. "Say it again," the militiaman snapped. The boy repeated it several times. Meanwhile more and more men were gathered. The medical group was then taken to Phalangist headquarters and turned over to the Israeli Army, which released them.

6.00 a.m. to 8.00 a.m. Loudspeakers were used to call inhabitants from Sabra to assemble on the main street. 'Sallimu tislamu," (Come out and you will be safe.") the residents were told. Several hundred assembled and were herded south on the main road of Shatila. Some small groups were separated and shot against a wall. Bulldozers covered some of the bodies in crushed houses. Some were put into trucks in front of the Kuwaiti embassy. One survivor reported hearing a militiaman say, "Better liquidate the maximum before anyone interferes." Some were taken away in trucks, other shot, still others taken to the sports stadium.

9.00 a.m. A U.S. Embassy staff member visited Shatila camp, confirming that a massacre had occurred and informed his superiors.

Throughout the morning inhabitants of the camps were periodically put into trucks and taken to unknown destinations. Dozens of relatives were carried away during this period and never seen again.

Bodies have been discovered along a route leading from the camps through the area of Ouzai, Khalde, Harat en Naameh, Kafr Chima and around the airport. The killer militia worked quickly to dispose of bodies. The Egyptian news service reported that more than 50 Egyptian bodies were carried by helicopter and dropped into the sea.

Close to 10.00 a.m. A stillness began to envelop the camps. Some isolated killing continued. Israeli tanks closed off the entrances to the camps. The Phalangist militias climbed into their vehicles and returned to their bases.

Towards 11.00 a.m. Journalists and photographers descended on the camps. They found freshly bleeding corpses. Shortly thereafter, the world learned of the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.

Lebanese press accuses Haddad Militia of playing a role in massacre. U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 521 demanding the immediate deployment of U.N. observers in Lebanon.


(Excerpts from the report of the Kahan Commission to investigate the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, which was signed by Chairman Yitzhak Kahan and members Aharon Barak and Yona Efrat.)

Before we discuss the essence of the problem of the indirect responsibility of Israel, or of those who operated at its behest, we perceive it necessary to deal with objections that have been voiced on various occasions, according to which if Israel's direct responsibility for the atrocities is negated -i.e., if it is determined that the blood of those killed was not shed by I.D.F. (Israel Defence Force) soldiers and forces, or that others operating at the behest of the state were not parties to the atrocities - then there is no place for further discussion of the problem of indirect responsibility. The argument is that no responsibility should be laid on Israel for deeds perpetrated outside of its borders by members of the Christian community against Palestinians in that same country, or against Muslims located within the area of the camps. A certain echo of this approach may be found in statements made in the Cabinet meeting of 9.19.82, and in statements released to the public by various sources.

We cannot accept this position. If it indeed becomes clear that those who decided on the entry of the Phalangist camps should have foreseen -from the information at their disposal and from things which were common knowledge - that there was danger of a massacre, and no steps were taken which might have prevented this danger or at least greatly reduced the possibility that deedsof this typemight bedone, then those who made the decisions and those who implemented them are indirectly responsible for what ultimately occurred, even if they did not intend this to happen and merely disregarded the anticipated danger. A similar indirect responsibility also falls on those who knew of the decision: it was their duty, by virtue of their position and their office, to warn of the danger, and they did not fulfill this duty. It is also not possible to absolve of such indirect responsibility those persons who, when they received the first reports of what was happening in the camps, did not rush to prevent the continuation of the Phalangists' actions and did not do everything within their power to stop them ....

We would like to note here that we will net enter at all into thequestion of indirect responsibility of other elements beside the State of Israel. One might argue that such indirect responsibility falls, inter alia, on the Lebanese Army, or on the Lebanese government to whose orders this army was subject, since despite Major General Drori's urgings in his talks with the heads of the Lebanese Army, they did not grant Israel's request to enter the camps before the Phalangists or instead of the Phalangists, until 9.19.82. It should also be noted that in meetings with U.S. representatives during the critical days, Israel's spokesmen repeatedly requested that the U.S. use its influence to get the Lebanese Army to fulfill the function of maintaining public peace and order in West Beirut, but it does not seem that these requests had any result. One might also make charges concerning the hasty evacuation of the multinational force by the countries whose troops were in place until after the evacuation of the terrorists ...

As has already been said above, the decision to enter West Beirut was adopted in conversations held between the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister on the night between 14-15 September 1982. No charge may be made against this decision for having been adopted by these two alone without convening a Cabinet session ...

The demand made in Israel to have the Phalangists take part in the fighting was a general and understandable one; and political, and to some extent military, reasons existedfor such participation. The general question of relations with the Phalangists and cooperation with them is a saliently political one, regarding which there may be legitimate differences of opinion and outlook. We do not find it justified to assert that the decision on this participation was unwarranted or that it should not have been made.

It is a different question whether the decision to have the Phalangists enter the camps was justified in the circumstances that were created ...

In our view, everyone who had anything to do with events in Lebanon should have felt apprehension about a massacre in the camps, if armed Phalangist forces were to be moved into them without the I.D.F. exercising concrete and effective supervision and scrutiny of them ...

The decision on the entry of the Phalangists into the refugee camps was taken on Wednesday (9.15.82) in the morning. The Prime Minister was not then informed of the decision. The Prime Minister heard about the decision, together with all the other ministers, in the course of a report made by the Chief of Staff at the Cabinet session on Thursday (9.16.82) when the Phalangists were already in the camps. Thereafter, no report was made to the Prime Minister regarding the excesses of the Phalangists in thecamps, and the Prime Minister learned about the events in the camps from a BBC broadcast on Saturday (9.18.82).


We have heretofore established the facts and conclusions with regard to the responsibility of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the head of the Mossad. In view of what we have determined with regard to the extent of the responsibility of each of them, we are of the opinion that it is sufficient to determine responsibility and there is no need for any further recommendations.


We have found, as has been detailed in this report, that the Minister of Defense 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 consider whether he should exercise his authority under Section 21-A (a) of the Basic Law of the Government, according to which "the Prime Minister may, after informing the Cabinet of his intention to do so, remove a minister from office."


We have arrived at grave conclusions with regard to the acts and omissions of the Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Rafael Eitan. The Chief of Staff is about to complete his term of service in April, 1983. Taking into account the fact that an extension of his term is not under consideration, there is no (practical) significance to a recommendation with regard to his continuing in office as Chief of Staff, and therefore we have resolved that it is sufficient to determine responsibility without making any further recommendations.(44)

Lieutenant Commander Burnett further discussed the principles of Command Responsibility according to International Criminal Law and came to the following conclusion(45):

The second portion of this study consisted of an examination of the responsibility of Rafael Eitan, who had been a participant in the Kibya Massacre in 1953, the Israeli Chief of Staff, in 1982, Amir Drori, the area commander for Lebanon, and Amos Yaron, the division commander in West Beirut, for the massacre in Shatila and Sabra. Although none of those Israeli officers expressly ordered the commission of war crimes, the facts and law applicable to each officer's case demonstrate their criminal liability as military commanders for the Phalangist atrocities. This finding is consistent generally with the conclusions of the Israeli Board of Inquiry and the Private International Commission, although the former was never specific in articulating the sources for its jurisprudence, whether national or international, statutory, conventional or customary, and the latter dealt primarily with the responsibility of the State of Israel. Significantly, the finding by the Israeli Board of Inquiry of indirect responsibility for the massacre in the cases of Eitan, Drori, and Yaron, like the administrative decision of the Secretary of the Army in Koster's case, may be treated as customary international law practice.


Systematic analysis of the nine massacres detailed in this chapter - the King David Hotel in 1946, the Semiramis Hotel in 1948, Deir Yassin in 1948, Dawayma in 1948, Kibya in 1953, Kafr Kassim in 1956, the USS Liberty in 1967, the Libyan Boeing 727 Airliner in 1973, and Sabra and Shatila in 1982 - indicates the presence of a pattern:

1. These war crimes were not isolated incidents erratically performed by fringe groups of military units which had lost their coherence, but instead were conducted for predetermined objectives;

2. Each massacre was planned in advance for a political rather than a military purpose;

3. Each massacre was conducted for psychological terroristic impact not solely related to the massacre itself;

4. Each massacre was conducted under the auspices of a well-defined chain of command descending from a political authority to a terroristic organization or military structure;

5. The individuals who are the actual war criminals were never conscripts, but voluntary leaders sharing Zionist ideological fervor; and

6. Regardless of political party affiliations, those individuals with proven guilt in war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, such as Ben-Gurion, Dayan, Begin, Shamir, Rabin, Sharon and Peres, as examples, seem to have ensured political dominance in Israel by individuals who were guilty of these crimes in their past. This would seem to indicate a criminal conspiracy to ensure that those guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide would never be brought to justice, and that those who would oppose the perpetration of these crimes would always be excluded from achieving real political power in Israel.


1. Yitshaq Ben-Ami, Years of Wrath, Days of Glory (New York: Speller, 1982), p. 377.
2. War Office Document 2611562, Public Record Office, London.
3. Hansard, House of Commons Debates, volume 425, pp. 1877-1878.
4. United Nations Security Council Official Records, Supplements 1948, Document Sl740.
5. Colonial Office Document 537/3855, Public Record Office, London.
6. Dan Kurzman, Genesis 1948 (New York: New American Library, 1972), p. 181.
7. Ibid.
8. Davar, June 9, 1979.
9. The Israeli Army in the Middle East Wars 1948-1973 (London: Osprey Publishing), p. 3 1.
10. I. L. Kenen, All My Causes, p. 60.
11. United Nations Security Council Official Records, Supplements 1953, Document S/3 1 13.
12. United Nations Security Council Official Records, 1953, October 19, 1953.
13. United Nations Security Council Official Records, 1953, October 26, 1953.
14. United Nations Security Council Official Records, Resolutions 1953, S/3 139~Rev. 2.
15. The Sign, December 1953.
16. Tension, Terror and Blood in the Holy Land, pp. 127-128.
17. Livia Rokach, Israel's Sacred Terrorism (Belmont, Mass.: Association of Arab American University Graduates Press, 1986) , pp. 13-14.
18. Kol Haam, December 19, 1956, p. 1.
19. Judgments of the District Courts of Israel 17, pp. 99-101, Military Attorney General v. Major Melinki et al, File 3/57, District Court of Israel Defense Army, Central Command, as cited in Sabri Jiryis, The Arabs in Israel (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1976), pp. 140-141.
20. Ibid., p. 101 (Jiryis, The Arabs in Israel, p. 141).
21. Ibid. (Jiryis, p. 142).
22. Ibid., p. 102 (Jiryis, p. 142).
23. Ibid., p. 104 (Jiryis, pp. 142-143).
24. Ibid., p. 106 (Jiryis, pp. 143-144).
25. Ibid., pp. 108- 1 10 (Jiryis, pp. 144- 145).
26. Ibid., p. 1 11 (Jiryis, pp. 145-146).
27, lbid., pp. 1 14-1 15 (Jiryis, pp. 146-147).
28. Ibid., pp. 117-1 18 (Jiryis, p. 147).
29. Davar, December 7, 1956, cited in Jiryis, p. 148.
30. Knesset Debates, 12 December 1956, p. 462, cited in Jiryis, p. 148.
31. Ner, August-October 1959, Boaz Evron; and Ha'aretz, 18 November 1959, as cited in Jiryis, pp. 148-149.
32. Knesset Debates, 10 February 1960, p. 603, Shimon Peres, deputy minister of defense, answering questions, as cited in Jiryis, p. 150.
33. Yediot Aharanot, 27 April, 1967, cited in Jiryis, p. 150.
34. Judgments of the District Courts of Israel 17, p. 208, cited in Jiryis, pp. 151-152..
35. Lamerhav, 24 October 1958, as cited in Jiryis, pp. 152-153.
36. Jiryis, p. 153.
37. Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out (Westport: Lawrence Hill, 1985), pp. 166- 168.
38. Findley, They Dare to Speak Out, pp. 166- 1 68.
39. Lord Russell of Liverpool, The Scourge of the Swastik (New York: Philosophical Library? 1954), p. 76.
40. James M, Ennes, Assault on the Liberty (New York: Random House, 1979), pp. 2 14-2 16.
41. United Nations Security Council Official Records, Supplements 1973, Document S/10893.
42. Military Law Review, No. 107, Winter Issue 1985, p, 186.
43. Franklin P. Lamb, &., Israel's War in Lebanon (Boston, Mass.: South End Press, 1984), pp, 98-112.
44. The Beirut Massacre: The Comp!ete Kahan Commissiun Report (Princeton: Karz-Cohl, l983), pp. 56- 104.
45. Military Law Review, No. 107, Winter Issue 1985, p. 188.


Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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