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PLO marks 35th anniversary of Palestinian refugee camp massacre in Lebanon

Sept. 16, 2017 1:43 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 17, 2017 3:40 P.M.)
A file picture released on Nov. 28, 2013 by UNRWA shows Palestinians at the Baqa'a refugee camp, north of Amman in 1970. (UNRWA Archives/AFP)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- On the 35th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon's Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp, Executive Committee Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Hanan Ashrawi said the massacre “still represents Israel's cruelty and inhumanity towards the Palestinian people as a whole”

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 -- who Ashrawi said “ left a legacy of bloodshed and destruction” -- guilty of failing to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians. He was demoted but later became Israeli prime minister.

“This remains a tragic chapter in Palestinian history, and thirty-five years later, the Sabra and Shatila massacre still represents Israel's cruelty and inhumanity towards the Palestinian people as a whole. This massacre, as well as other massacres against the Palestinian people, goes unpunished,” Ashrawi said.

Ashrawi said in her statement that the massacre “should remind the entire international community that the plight of the more than six million Palestinian refugees has not been resolved,” and that Israel and the US “must do justice to the Palestinian refugees and implement international law and UN resolutions.”

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