Friday, September 16, marks the 34th anniversary of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, which butchered over 3,500 Palestinian refugees in Lebanese refugee camps.
“As one jots down the Sabra and Shatilla phrase, hundreds of painful memories emerge on the surface; we see refugees’ bodies thrown everywhere across the streets,” said a Palestinian veteran. “That very massacre is one of history’s most live proofs of Israeli terrorism against Palestinian refugees.”
Though 34 years have passed by, the memories of the Sabra and Shatila massacre have survived in the minds of the Palestinian refugees and the world’s free people as if it were yesterday. “The Sabra and Shatila genocide can never be subject to the statute of limitations,” said an activist.
Between September 16-18, 1982, in the middle of Lebanon’s civil war and a few months after Israel’s invasion of the country, hundreds of members of the Phalange party – a Lebanese Christian militia – in collaboration with the Israeli occupation army, slaughtered between 3,500 and 5,000 Palestinian refugees, mostly women, children, and the elderly, in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp located in Beirut.
Talking to the PIC 34 years after the massacre, a survivor said: “I still remember all details of the massacre as I do yesterday’s meal. The pictures of soldiers pumping a child’s body with live bullets could not leave my memory. I remember that they would fire at civilian refugees from a very close range.”
“The whole scene is just horrible! It’s the most atrocious of all events one could ever see in his/her entire life,” said another refugee. “Dead bodies scattered everywhere on the streets and around the camp; blood spattered on the walls of civilian homes.”
“As there was no other place to run to or hide into, we found no other way out but to trample over our children’s dead bodies and among cluster munitions,” she said. “At one point I caught sight of a tank, where the body of a baby only a few days old was wedged to the wheels.”
Quoted by the PIC, a historiographer said the real atrocity inflicted by the Sabra and Shatila genocide lies not only in the memories of civilian cadavers, including children and women, thrown in streets like the muck heaped up on trash tips amid the nauseating smells of injustice, oppression and barbarism emerging from the little bodies of those innocent children; the atrocity of the Sabra and Shatila mass-slaughter lies also in the fact that none of the Israeli and Lebanese criminals were sued or even held responsible for the butchery as if the bodies and souls of the thousands of children and women slain in no more than 24 hours’ time are not worth the prosecution such tragedies quite naturally and quite “humanly” call for.
Speaking on conditions of anonymity, another Palestinian refugee told the PIC: “As a young child of nine at the time, I remember that upon arrival from school I saw my mother, father, and sister lying on the floor as blood poured down from their bodies. As a mixture of shock and fear crept into every bone of my body, I held my breath until my lips turned blue. Had I not turned left and popped along to my neighbors’ home, my body would have gone into ashes.”
The 34th anniversary of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila genocide, marked on September 16, comes at a time when Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon and other regions of the world, have been subjected to dire socio-economic conditions, enduring poverty and risking death at sea onboard smugglers’ boats to seek a refuge somewhere oversees.
The occasion also coincides with simmering terrorism perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army and settler gangs on Palestinian civilians and holy sites across the occupied Palestinian territories.