BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- On the 30th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon's Sabra and Shatila camp, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat called on the international community to “resolve the plight of Palestinian refugees."
“The massacre of Sabra and Shatila is a symbol of the Palestinian exile. Over the past few years, Palestinian refugees have also been persecuted and killed in Iraq and Syria. Resolving the plight of Palestinian refugees, in accordance with international law and UN resolution 194,
is of vital importance for our region,” Erekat said in a statement on Friday.
“To date, the international community has failed to honor Palestinian rights, let alone to hold Israel accountable for its violations and crimes against the land and people of Palestine.”
The massacre took place after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, when Christian Phalangist militias entered the Beirut camp under Israeli military watch to wreak retribution for the alleged assassination of their leader Bachir Gemayel.
Between September 16 and 18, Palestinian refugees were killed in droves. At the time, the number of dead was estimated at 700, but eyewitness British reporter Robert Fisk says the number was closer to 1,700, while the PLO has previously said nearly 3,500 Palestinians were killed.
Israeli soldiers in control of the perimeter of the camps did not stop the slaughter, firing flares overhead at night to aid the Phalangist gunmen.
An Israeli investigation found then defense minister Ariel Sharon guilty of failing to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians. He was demoted but later became Israeli prime minister.
“Thirty-four years ago an Israeli general, Ariel Sharon, violated an Israeli obligation not to enter West Beirut and facilitated the barbaric massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees that were under his control,” Erekat said. “Instead of being held accountable, Sharon was even promoted to become Israel’s prime minister. He passed away two years ago without ever facing justice for his heinous crimes.”
“Sabra and Shatila is a reminder of the importance to make justice prevail over impunity.”