Monday, 17 September 2012

Sabra and Chatila

I shook my head as I looked up at Daoud. ‘But they killed Israelis. Innocent Israelis.’ 
Daoud had walked away to stand by the ornate dinner table under the chandelier, his back to me.  ‘What? And the infallible Mossad never makes mistakes? The wonderful Israelis would never harm civilians? Have you never heard of The Stern Gang, Paul? The Haganah? Ain Helweh? Sabra? The history of Palestine since the Naqba has been of Israeli killing, of Israeli cruelty and Israeli callousness. Thousands died in Gaza, Paul. Do you think they lost a second’s sleep over a couple of bombs and a few dead Arabs? Do you? Killing is a potent drug, Paul. Kill a few Arabs and you’ll maybe have less of a conscience at sacrificing one or two of your own.’
Olives, Page 221

Thirty years ago yesterday, Phalangist militia were let into the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian refugee camps by the occupying Israeli military. It took them 62 hours to mow down some three thousand men, women and children. The camps were guarded throughout this time by Israeli soldiers.

An excellent eye-witness account of the aftermath is to be found in Robert Fisk's seminal 'Pity The Nation - Lebanon at War'. It's not pretty reading.

A little over thirty years before that, soldiers from another country guarded the gates of camps where innocents were murdered. And no, scale doesn't stand as an excuse.
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