Franklin Lamb, Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut, September 15, 2017
This week commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Wednesday, Sept. 15 to Saturday, Sept. 18, Sabra-Shatila Massacre in the Fakhani neighborhood of Beirut. For many of the families and loved ones of the victims, as is certainly the case with this observer, it seems as though the Sabra-Shatila Massacre was committed at most four or five years ago. So vivid still in our memories are the horror images of that orgy of slaughter.
A massive crime against humanity which has yet to be adjudicated. Due to poisonous destructive sectarian political pressures, not only unique to Lebanon which has 18 competing sects with ever shifting alliances, there has never been any investigation by Lebanon's government of the militiamen who actually conducted the slaughter. Subsequently [i] the Lebanese killers have thus been granted amnesty. A February 1983 Israeli Commission of Inquiry white-washed Israel's facilitation of the crime with very limited and weak 'findings of limited indirect responsibility'.
As no Palestinian or person of goodwill who has learned about the Massacre will ever likely forget, shortly after dusk on the night of Sept. 15, 1982, the Israeli military, which had occupied much of Lebanon the preceding June, allowed drug and hate fueled right-wing Lebanese militia and others to enter Beirut's Shatila Palestinian refugee camp and the adjacent neighborhoods of Sabra and Bir Hasan.
One dear friend, who was like a sister to the late American Journalist Janet Lee Stevens who wrote some of the most incisive reports documenting the Massacre, visited with me at the Shatila Palestinian Camp Youth Center (CYC) a few months ago. By the grace of God the lady escaped death by playing dead as two members of Elie Hobeika's "Christian" militia kicked her body and poked her chest with a rifle muzzle but did not fire, apparently thinking she was already dead. She told me that she can still sometimes smell the stench of the blackened rotting bodies in the alleyways of Shatila camp from those hot September days in 1982. And that until today she sometimes has nightmares about the Israeli 81-milimeter flares that lite up the night sky as bright as a sports stadium during a night football game to aid the butchers conduct their carnage.
Who were the killers?
[The photos above were taken by Franklin Lamb during the first week of October, 1982 on the airport road adjacent to the Kuwait Embassy and Shatila Palestinian refugee camp. The photos show two of several signs painted on walls near Shatila on Wednesday, September 15, 1982. The purpose was to guide the Lebanese Forces and Saad Haddad militia into the camp from the Beirut airport approximately two miles south where the militia was ordered by Israel to assemble. The circled triangle is the insignia of the Phalange Militia known as the "Lebanese Forces." "MP" stands for their Military Police. These signs were approximately 30 yards directly south of the Kuwaiti Embassy roundabout which overlooks the southwest area of Shatila camp. In the upper left of the top photo can be seen the seven stories building that Israeli observers used to view the interior of Shatila as the massacre was being committed and also from which American 81 mm night flares were launched by Israeli forces over Shatila to facilitate the killer militia looking into homes and being able to see in the camps narrow alleys.]
The militiamen came from both south Lebanon - the area of Major Haddad's stronghold -- and the Christian militia areas of East Beirut. According to residents of Shuweifat, a largely Druze area located just south of Beirut airport, there was a steady stream of trucks and armored vehicles carrying militiamen to the airport parking area during the afternoon of 9/16/1982.