Sabra and Shatila: Escaping Justice

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An archive picture of prayers held over the bodies of martyrs of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila Massacre.

Published Friday, September 14, 2012

Today marks the 30 year anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, in which hundreds of defenseless Palestinian refugees were slaughtered by Lebanese right-wing militias under the cover of the Israeli military. Below are profiles of the main culprits responsible for the killings.

Ariel Sharon


Ariel Sharon (84) fell into a coma six years ago while preparing for his electoral campaign. He still has a strong presence in the Israeli political scene despite the media blackout imposed by the Israeli state on news and pictures of him.

His condition has not improved. The doctor in charge of caring for him says that his “state is stable,” adding that “Sharon is a very strong man physically and in my view, mentally as well.”

The financial committee in the Israeli Knesset decided to divide the cost of Sharon’s treatment – 1.5 million shekels ($400,000) annually – between the government and his family.

An Israeli investigative committee had found Sharon indirectly responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982 where hundreds of Palestinian refugees were killed “as he was a defense minister at the time.”

Rafael Eitan

__title__Rafael Eitan

Rafael Eitan was born on 11 December 1929. In 1946 he joined the Palmach, which is the strike force of the Haganah [ the pre-establishment of Israel Jewish militant group. He held several positions in the Israeli army including Chief of Staff between 1978-1983.

During his term, he participated in planning the attack on the Iraqi atomic reactor Tammuz and the invasion of Lebanon. After the Sabra and Shatila massacre, the Kahan Commission tasked with investigating the massacre concluded that Eitan was “in breach of duty that was incumbent on the chief of staff.”

The report noted that Eitan did not take the necessary measures to prevent the massacre and did not act in accordance with the duties a military commander.

The commission did not, however, remove him from his post or make any further recommendations against him under the pretext that he was due to retire soon. He died in 2004.

Fadi Frem

__title__Frem (R)

Bashir Gemayel appointed Fadi Frem leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) militia in 1982 after Gemayel was “elected” president and one day before his assassination.

When the Sabra and Shatila massacre took place, he was the leader giving orders to LF fighters and he was responsible for the decision to enter the refugee camps.

Frem was married to one of the granddaughters of the Phalange Party founder, Pierre Gemayel. He advanced gradually in the LF as he was one of the first people to join the Bashir Gemayel squad. He was later appointed as head of the militia’s military intelligence before becoming deputy chief of staff, then leader of the LF.

Under his leadership, the “War of the Mountain” between Christian and Druze militias broke out and the LF were soundly defeated, causing the displacement of Christians from the Chouf area.

His relationship with President Amin Gemayel grew tense and Fouad Abou Nader was appointed in his place. Frem’s forces took part alongside Elie Hobeika’s in the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

He now lives in Canada. It should be noted that in 2000 the Canadian department of justice investigated those responsible for torture in the Khiam detention center in South Lebanon and did not allow many of them to immigrate to Canada for this reason.

Saad Haddad

__title__Haddad (R)

Saad Haddad was born in 1936 in the town of Marjayoun in South Lebanon. He was an officer when he was put in charge of a Lebanese army unit that included 400 soldiers in the town of Qulaiah.

In 1979, he allied himself with Israel to establish the South Lebanon Army (SLA) militia. On 19 April 1979, he announced the establishment of Free Lebanon in the territories occupied by Israel in the South.

During the 1982 Israeli invasion, he transferred members of his forces from the South to Beirut Airport and then to Sabra and Shatila, where they played a prominent role in perpetrating the massacre.

Haddad died on 14 January 1984 from cancer. His daughter Arzeh, who became an Israeli citizen, works in the field of military research to develop Israeli missiles.

Etienne Sakr


Etienne Sakr was born in Ain Ebel in South Lebanon and later became an officer in the General Security Directorate. After the Lebanese government signed the Cairo Agreement in 1969 with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Sakr left the intelligence agency to devote himself to politics.

He established, with the poet Said Akel, the Lebanese Renewal Party which eventually became the Guardians of the Cedars militia – a Lebanese ultra-nationalist movement.

Sakr was also one of the founders of the Lebanese Front. His party participated in the fighting at the beginning of the civil war against PLO fighters and their Lebanese allies.

He was known for his collaboration with Israel. He supported the SLA and in the 1990s he lived in the town of Jezzine in the South.

When Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, he asked to make the area along the southern border an autonomous region. He was sentenced in absentia to death on charges of treason. He currently lives in Cyprus.

Elie Hobeika


Elie Hobeika was born in 1956 and was one of the prominent leaders of the LF militia during the civil war. He joined the Phalange Party when he was young, then moved to the LF upon its inception.

In 1979, he was put in charge of the information and security agency in the LF. In early 1985, he and Samir Geagea led an uprising against the Phalange leadership and Hobeika became the leader of the LF.

At the end of that same year, he signed the Tripartite Accord with Nabih Berri and Walid Jumblatt.

This agreement ushered in his public relationship with Syria and his formal admission into the Syrian axis in Lebanon. In early 1986, Geagea turned against him and the two fought in Achrafieh and Zahle, which led to Geagea’s takeover of the LF leadership.

After the war, Hobeika became an MP and was appointed minister. He dropped out of politics in 2000 when he lost his seat in the parliamentary elections.

Hobeika was assassinated in 2002 in Hazmieh with a car bomb after his decision to go to a Belgian court to “expose Israeli war crimes.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


and the zionists have not stopped killing even to this very day, more than 500 children this year in the concentration camp of almost beats anything the nazis did in their short time in power, 66 years of zionist jewish terror is enough, the world is waking up..death to israel and death to zionism, we wil not rest til that is achieved

There is hope that Ariel Sharon has suffered nightmares of the worst kind in the whole 6 years of his coma.

Isn't EVERY day in the Levant the anniversary of some act of sectarian mayhem ? And isn't this article just another example of how the flames of sectarianism are encouraged to keep burning ?


I don't think the Levant has a monopoly on sectarianism. And anyway, remembering is not lighting flames - it is honouring experience and is vital to all of us, especially for those who have suffered and/or perpetrated the horrors our species is capable of. If we ignore history we are doomed to repeat it, as the old saw goes and how tragically true it seems to be. So more remembering and one hopes, some learning.

Don't you know - only Americans and Christians get to commemorate their history?

elie hobeiqa and his gang were fully responsible and acted outside of the will of the FL leadership. then this terrorist man was kicked out of the FL and joined terrorists like him were feels right at home. then he made an alliance with sayyed hasan nasrallah who welcomed him in open arms.

now let us wait and see if al-akhbar will keep a minimum of objectivity and do similar reports on the countless massacres committed against the christians... of course they won't...

and of course they won't do a report on when the shiites killed the palestinians. or the massacres committed by khomeini, or hafez assad, or bashar assad... facts don't fit the fake history they are trying to promote.

For every massacre of Christians in the civil war, there are countless more against Palestinians and Muslims. In effect, most massacres of Christians were in retaliation on unprovoked attacks against others. For example, the Damour massacre - which is in the tip of the tongue of every Islamophobe confronted about Sabra and Shatila - was revenge for a much bloodier genocide, that of Karantina.

As for the LF not having a policy of genocide against Palestinians, that's laughable, having in mind countless other massacres it perpetrated before Sabra and Shatila - Tel al-Zaatar's, for example.

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