On Sept. 16-18, 1982, Lebanese Christian Phalangists, under the approving eye of then-Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, launched a three-day, massive assault on the Palestinian refugees living in the Lebanese refugee camps Sabra and Shatilla.
Officially, no one has ever been able to arrive at an exact number of dead, though figures range from the 1,000 corpses buried in a mass grave by the International Committee of the Red Cross to at least 3,500. Many people were buried beneath of the rubble of demolished homes and buildings and hundreds were rounded up and carried away on trucks, never to return, according to Dr. Laurie King-Irani, who has conducted research into this massacre.
That same month, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 521, which condemned the massacre and called it an â€œact of genocide.â€
Yet the perpetrators of one of the most heinous acts in modern history have never been brought to justice. An internal Israeli investigation called the Kahan Commission â€“ which was political and not judicial â€“ found Sharon to be indirectly but personally responsible. He resigned as defense minister but retained a government cabinet position. He served as prime minister from 2001 to 2006. Since Sabra and Shatilla, Israel has engaged in numerous acts, from massacres to home demolitions, designed to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the Holy Land, either through murder, incarceration or displacement.
We must never forget the many innocent Palestinians who were condemned to death, simply because of their nationality. We can keep their memories alive by promising to continue our fight against Israeli aggression and occupation. We must not give up on our goals to educate the American public, to wake them up to the fact their tax dollars are supporting a brutal regime that violates international law and Palestinian human rights every single day.
To honor the victims of Sabra and Shatilla, as well as all those who today are suffering under Israelâ€™s occupation, make a promise to educate yourselves about Palestine and how to effectively work to help bring justice to our brothers and sisters. Make sure to attend AMPâ€™s sixth annual Conference for Palestine in the US: A Blessed Land; A Noble Cause, from Nov. 28-30 at the Crowne Plaza Oâ€™Hare. Go toconference.ampalestine.org to learn more.