29 years later, horror of Sabra + Shatila massacres in Beirut lingers, grief endures

As we wrote in our post last year, here, which we published on 18 September 1982, the day the world found out what had been going on for at least the previous 48 hours:

The horror simply does not disappear.
That there are other horrors in the world does not in any way diminish what happened 28 years ago in Sabra + Shatila, where massacres took place in two undefended Palestinian refugee camps in west Beirut. It was, indeed, “one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century” …

A good part of last year’s post relied on the accounts, including eye-witness reports gathered by Leila Shahid with Linda Butler, published here in the Journal of Palestine Studies.

It is a matter of public and historical record that Phalangist forces carried out the massacre in revenge for the assassination of their leader, Bachir Gemayel, on 14 September. Israeli officers consulted with Phalangist forces hours prior to their entry into the camp. The massacres were carried out while Israeli soldiers were stationed on the roof of an adjacent building which had a clear view of what went on in at least part of the area. Israeli forces fired flares to provide illumination through the first night that Phalangist forces were in the camp. An Israeli journalist went personally from Beirut back to Israel to speak directly to Israel’s then-Defense Minister to tell him what was going on in the camps. And, an Israeli commission of inquiry later found that Israel’s then-Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon, bore personal responsibility. Sharon was obliged to resign. [[I was one of three journalists who covered the subsequent trial of his lawsuit in NYC against TIME Magazine and CBS Television’s 60 Minutes for a report, which Sharon won, based on a dossier filed by David Halevy to Time Magazine that was judged faulty because of a leap of logic or assumption.]] Sharon later became Prime Minister.

The massacres were carried out after Sharon led IDF troops up to and encircled PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Beirut in June 1982. Weeks of heavy bombardment with all kinds of terrible weaponry designed to kill Arafat were used. The UN Security Council was in near-continuous consultations or meetings.

Finally, it was arranged for Arafat and PLO fighters to evacuate Beirut aboard Greek ferryboats under the UN flag. The evacuation began on 23 August.

Because the PLO fighters feared they were leaving their compatriots, friends and families undefended, American guarantees of protection were given, and American and French naval ships were stationed off the Lebanese coast.

Still, the massacre took place, over more than 48 hours, without intervention.