Saturday, September 20, 2008

Remembering Sabra and Shatilla...

I took three days to ransack and go through my old files, books and documents. Not that I have forgotten about it but in order to share it with you, I have to be factual or nearest to it.While other bloggers chose to be ‘very domestic’, I rather stay on the sideline, recalling the memories of Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon, trying as much to hold my tears and emotion as my mindframe suddenly got almost of it.

Sabra and Shatilla are two Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon where over 2,000 Palestinians were massacred during three days (Sept 16-18) in September 1982 by hundreds of Lebanese Phalange and Haddad militiamen with the aid and support of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

During the1982 Israeli invasion into Lebanon and siege of Beirut, US Envoy Phillip Habib managed to have a written agreement whereby Palestinian fighters would leave Lebanon, providing a US guarantee to the safety of Palestinian refugees left behind in the camps.

After Palestinian fighters evacuated Lebanon, the Israeli army sealed off Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps and established a command post at the Kuwaiti embassy, a seven-story building over looking both camps. Present at the command post were the primary architects of the atrocity: Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and Chief of Lebanese Forces Intelligence Elie Hobeika, along with high-ranking Israeli army officials.

In the early morning of September 16th, the Israeli army allowed bloodthirsty armed militiamen to enter the camps, provided with weapons, bulldozers, and communication equipment. They were also given hashish and heroin to help them maintain ‘courage’. For 62 hours, the militia participated in wholesale slaughter and rape.

Women and children were not spared. The Israeli army lit the skies over the camps by firing flares during the nights, and also prevented residents of the camp from escaping. A group of refugees who reached the one of the Israeli checkpoint were ordered by soldiers to return back into the camp - even though they told soldiers that people are being slaughtered inside. This encounter was documented by a Scandinavian news crew.

Ellen Siegel was an American nurse from Baltimore who volunteered at Gaza hospital in Sabra camp. She was rounded up with 20 other foreign medical personal. Upon hearing the radio communications that the butchers inside the camp were ready to execute all of them, an army officer stopped the order and ran back to the camp to rescue Miss Siegel and another female nurse from Holland. The rest were lined up against the wall and executed. Miss Siegel was among 3 Americans who testified in the Kahane Commission, the Israeli official inquiry into the massacre.

No adjectives exist to describe this heinous atrocity. This crime was beyond all human and moral comprehension. However, an American woman named Janet Stevens was among the first people to visit both camps the day after this ugly crime. She wrote the following testimony to her husband Franklin Lamb:

"I saw dead women in their houses with their skirts up to their waists and their legs spread apart; dozens of young men shot after being lined up against an alley wall; children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles."

As the news and images of the massacre were broadcast worldwide, shockwaves, anger, and resentment were felt everywhere. In Israel , 400,000 protesters took part in a peace rally in Tel Aviv demanding the resignation of Ariel Sharon and demanded he should be tried for war crimes.

An Israeli commentator denounced Sharon 's complicity into the massacre in a commentary which said in part, "…you can't toss a snake into a cradle, then act surprise when the baby gets bitten."

Meanwhile the Kahane Commission in Israel turned out to be a "kangaroo court" where the outcome was essentially predetermined, and the process was compromised. Several high-ranking military officers were found negligent, got a slap on the hand and later promoted. Sharon was forced to resign as the defense minister, and was barred for life from holding public office. Despite all of this, Israelis elected him in 2001 as their prime minister.

I tried to go to Lebanon a week after the incident but my request was shot down by my editor then. The closest I got to Sabra and Shatilla was in 1984 when I took ‘leave’ and went to Beirut with an Indonesian journalist, Petrus Suryadi of Kompas (wonder what’s he doing now).

As at today, many victims and other relatives sued Ariel Sharon for war crimes in a Belgian Court. But under pressure from US and Israeli governments, Belgium dropped the case as inadmissible. All militiamen who took part in the killing received amnesty from the Lebanese government.

Elie Hobeika was killed in a car bomb in Beirut 20 years after the massacre. Two of his top lieutenants were assassinated in a separate incidents. Ariel Sharon suffered massive stroke in 2006 that ended his political career. Later, Israel 's cabinet declared Sharon officially permanently incapacitated until this day.

However, my heart goes to the 3 Americans who testified in the Kahane Commission, especially Janet Stevens who was killed during the 1983 bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut. She was pregnant with her first child, a baby boy. Mrs. Stevens went into the Embassy to seek more aid for the Lebanese people in the south and Palestinians in Beirut who were affected by the Israeli invasion and by the massacre. Her hubby, Franklin Lamb is a prominent researcher and author, frequently writing about the Middle East. Siegel continues to write letters, make calls and fight for the victims and trying to promote peace between Israel and Palestine.

A friend of mine, Abbas Kholel, 45, sent me an e-mail two years ago, describing what he witnessed on September 17, 1982:

“It was 11am and I was hiding behind a burned house… they came… chopping of camp residents with axes, disemboweling with knives, shootings with Israeli supplied silencers, hangings, burnings, live burials, and rapes. I saw how 2 Israeli soldiers raped and beheaded by 14-year old younger sister… I was helpless and petrified. For all the killings that took place on that day, I wished I was one of them… just couldn’t bear the nightmares anymore…”


SENSE, universiti malaya said...

this is something different. u should stay this way, give us more about your experience overseas, at war and your encounters with foreign leaders.


TINI, kota bharu said...

sdr bujai,

terima kasih di atas info yang amat berlainan pada blog sdr.

kisah seperti ini amat berguna untuk tatapan pemimpin malaysia yang selalu bercakaran ini. ia juga elok untuk rakyat malaysia, agar ia dijadikan pedoman untuk hidup dalam semangat muhibah dan bertolak ansur.

semoga sdr dapat memaparkan lebih banyak posting seperti ini pada masa depan.


Conspiracy Theorist said...

Bro Bujai,

Thnx for bringing back d past, heart goes for d innocent victims of d Shatilla n Sabra massacre.. al Fatihah..amiinn..

cancan said...

Let us pray together

Better in Time said...

Bang Bujai,

Yes,many bloggers just focus on the domestic. As if world events have no bearing on us and our future (like katak bawah tempurung, blissfully unawares).

Everything that is happening around the world is closely interrelated and can be traced to a few common sources (or source); even the recent skyrocketing oil prices, food prices (caused by the pirate speculators and speculative systems) and political events in various countries.

Most are part of a carefully orchestrated bigger plan.

Even the financial turmoil worldwide is a result of a banking system created on empty (meaning the unislamic way of creating wealth out of nothing as clearly prohibited by the Prophet). And this is now imploding unto itself and causing misery worldwide and benefitting a few..

The only way is for the Islamic and Arab nations to WAKE UP and for the people to get rid of their puppet US appointed regimes and to get together and create a dinar (value) based economy and put the warmongers and riba profiteers out of business.

Tapi kita masih sibuk menyembelih satu sama lain dari bersatupadu.

I posted a piece on a victim of the US (ZOG) led war on Islam, arbitrary detention of an innocent mother (and countless other Caged Prisoners on caged Dr Aafia (my Sept 18 post) and you can see for yourself a new wave of assault on Muslims to continue the larger plan of the Zionists which began in Palestine.

Our leaders are just engrossed in saving their skins and stuffing their wallets and satiating their penises (sorry eh, censored sket).

Our defences are also very weak, as an army man told me, our soldiers are poorly equipped lacking even basics such as night vision googles and the like.

We have MiGs and Sukhois, tapi we do not have even have adequate transport ships to transport our troops. Can you imagine that?

We do not even have an AWACS system...the billions squandered could well have been used for its purchase (byk sangat masuk pocket sana sini)

It is a grossly neglected area. That is really scary.

A weak government, economically at risk and defences severely lacking. A recipe for disaster.

Our bloggers and journalists need to wake up and see the bigger picture past their beers and partisan politics.

Our very existence is at stake.

Betui tak Bang Bujai?

tehsin begum mukhtar ahmad

ex-diplomat, KL said...

we will never forget the massacre 26 years ago. i was a diplomat in cairo when it took place.

the images, pictures and reports of it drew anger from all over the world but the israelis were quick in putting the blame on the falangist.

the americans, in condemning the attacks, did not take further action to quell the war... until now.

sad to say that we, the muslims, are falling apart. we failed to unite against the force of terrorism as we are too busy with our own infightings!


sedih rasanya bila mengenang kembali peristiwa ni, bang.

waktu itu, saya di bangku sekolah. ketika di universiti, pernah ada acara untuk memperingati detik hitam sabra dan shatilla ni dan ketika itu, saya menangis hampir 1 jam

terima kasih di atas posting yang sebegini.

HOSE LEE, s'pore said...

good to have someone like u among the bloggers.

pls bring us more materials like this as it helps to refresh our mind about history. its useful

thank u.

hose lee

Anonymous said...

bravo bro for this kind of posting. hope to read more international stuff from u.

NISHA, kuantan said...

peristiwa hitam 17 sept ini pernah dijadikan lagu oleh satu kumpulan. saya tak ingat tetapi liriknya sungguh mengusik perasaan.

saya dan anak2 membaca cerita sdr ini dengan asyik. memang ramai anak muda sekarang tidak mengetahui apa sebenarnya berlaku pada rakan seagama mereka di lebanon ketika itu.

jadi, saya jadikan posting sdr ini untuk menceritakan semula kepada mereka.

saya harap kisah seperti ini diperbanyakkan dalam blog sdr. terlalu banyak kisah politik dan yang bukan2 disuakan oleh blogger2 yang lain.

nisha, kuantan

ADIK, UM said...

memang best la kisah macam ni sebab ia satu ilmu mengenai sejarah yang hanya baru 2 dekad berlaku. ia bagus untuk dijadikan pedoman dan sempadan kehidupan. apa lagi selepas ni?

jerome said...

u make me sad... however, i am thankful for bringing back the memories. i went to lebanon in 1990 but was not able to visit the camps, except reading some writings on the walls of old buildings in tyre about the killings.


son of palestine said...

we will never forget it, bro. as how the americans want the whole world to remember sept 11, 2001, we should not forget sept 17, 1982. the americans got their hands in sabra and shatilla. the palestinian blood stuck to their hands.

dr nabih eswary, lebanon said...

mr bujai,
i would like to extend our sincere appreciation to your posting on sabra and shatilla.

although i am not in kuala lumpur, on behalf of my friends and relatives who perished in the massacre 26 years ago, we are happy that malaysia has been in solidarity with the people of palestine since a long time ago.

each year after the incident, the agony of pain lingers on. i was a kid of 10 years old when my parents were nabbed and hanged before my very own eyes. my two brothers aged 16 and 19 then were shot dead, one of them with at least 40 bullets in his body.

today, at the age of 36, i serve as a doctor to help refugees in south lebanon.

there are so much to tell you and i will e-mail you soon.

again, please accept my gratitude for such a wonderful writing about the memories of sabra and shatilla.

bujai said...

dr nabih,
thank u for visiting my blog. i stand in solidarity with the people of palestine and lebanon who are under the oppression from israel and its master of imperialist.

hope to hear more from you soon.

thank you

Anonymous said...

I recall it were Haddad & Lebanese Phalange (sp?) militiamen in those camps doing those atrocities.
How come the eye-witness states "Israeli" military were there?
Curious Cat

Anonymous said...

En Bujai

Ur write-up is great & timely.

Thank you for reminding us on how dangerous it is to go down this road of racial & religious violence.

If u had witnessed the Kesas Hway incident or the brutal suppression of innocent people exercising their democratic right to come together (BERSIH, etc), you will see similarities with what happened in Lebanon.

Imprisonment of innocent people like Ms.Tan & Teresa Kok are symptomatic of regimes that are in their last stages.

I concur with your reasoning, do not allow racial hatred and religious differences to lead to these attrocities.

Crying Out 4 Peace

Julian said...

I tell you, God sees! Come judgement day, these murderers will pay for their sins.

I learn of the Sabra-Shatila events from Dr Ang's book accounting her time at Beirut as a surgeon.