Palestinians commemorate the horrific 1982 massacre in Beirut

Palestinians commemorate the horrific 1982 massacre in Beirut

BEIRUT (AP) – Palestinians marked the 40th anniversary of the horrific killings at a refugee camp in Beirut on Friday that left hundreds dead during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

Thousands of citizens from Europe who support the Palestinian cause also took part in the commemoration held in Beirut close to where the men, women and children were killed by the Israeli-backed Lebanese Christian militia.

Over three days in September of that year, the Christian militia swept through Shatila camp, and its sister area Sabra, killing hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children. To date, the official confirmed toll is 328 killed, 991 missing.

Kamal Maruf, 82 years old, was one of those who attended the memorial, who on September 18, 1982 was ordered to leave his apartment early in the morning with his 19-year-old son, Jamal . Members of the Lebanese Forces militia forced them to gather in a square with others.

“They took a lot of people and my son was one of them. I have no idea where they took them,” said Maruf. It was the last time he saw his son.

“Until today I don’t know about my son’s martyrdom,” he said, adding that he would fight for his son’s justice as long as he was alive.

Two days before the rampage began, Bachir Gemayel, commander of the Lebanese Forces who had been elected president in August 1982, was assassinated by a bomb in Beirut. Hours after the assassination, Israeli forces stormed Beirut’s western neighborhoods after Palestinian fighters had surrendered weeks earlier, under an international settlement.

Ariel Sharon was Israel’s defense minister at the time of the massacre and in 1983, he was criticized by a commission of inquiry that found him indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees as well as several thousands of Lebanese Forces militia.

Twenty-three survivors of the killings filed a case against Sharon in Belgium in 2001 but a year later a court there said the case was “unacceptable”.

In 2002, a Lebanese Christian warlord, Elie Hobeika, who led the force that entered the camp and carried out the killings, was killed in an explosion near his home, southeast of Beirut.

“We show with our presence today and every year that we share humanity and the need for justice,” said Italian citizen Salvatore Infantino, 37, who flew to Beirut to take part in the commemoration. Infantino, who currently lives in France, is a member of the “Committee Not to Forget Sabra and Shatila.”

“We hope that one day we will have justice for this death,” he said.

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