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New evidence implicates Sharon and his army
|Two British newspapers, The Independent and The Guardian (28 Nov.) have disclosed chilling new evidence that more than 1,000 Palestinian survivors of the Sabra and Shatila camp massacres in Beirut in 1982 ‘disappeared’ within 24 hours of the slaughter in areas under direct Israeli military control.
The testimony, which describes in detail how the victims were last seen by their families in the hands of Israeli troops and Israel's militia allies, was among the material considered by a Belgian judge, who decided on 28 Nov. that the case against the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, should continue for the slaughter.
Sharon was judged "personally responsible" for the massacre by the Israeli Kahan Commission in 1983. Its report concluded that hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, were all butchered between 16 and 18 September 1982.
Among the female witnesses cited by lawyers in Belgium, who are seeking the indictment against Sharon, are at least five who claim that more than 100 men were detained by the militiamen and handed over to the Israelis alive. They were never seen again.
Separately from the court action, a film taken by a television crew at the time, which has recently come to light, appears to show Israeli officers in the presence of Phalangist gunmen - long after the Israelis knew their Phalangist allies had carried out the massacre, which caused worldwide outrage and led Gen. Sharon, then defence minister, to resign.
There has always been a discrepancy between the number of bodies found in Sabra and Shatila - up to 600 - and the number of civilians registered as missing - more than 1,800. The new evidence holds disturbing implications for both the Israeli army and for Sharon. There is a strong case now that the prisoners handed over to the Israelis were murdered and dumped. This will establish a direct responsibility of Sharon and his Israeli army for the massacre of the Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners.