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Victims of the Sabra and Shatila massacre remembered

SURVIVORS of the 1982 massacre of Palestinians at Lebanon’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps remembered the dead in a moving ceremony at the burial site today, vowing to continue their resistance.

Flowers were laid at the gathering, which took place on the site where thousands of Palestinians were buried in a mass, unmarked grave.

Fatima,who lost several members of her family during the three-day killing spree, said that the “culture of impunity” that allows Israel to carry out atrocities without recourse must come to an end.

She said it was because of this that the genocide of the Palestinian people has continued since around one million people were forced from their homes in the 1948 Nakba, when the state of Israel was created.

“I was born a refugee and I will probably die a refugee,” she said, adding: “One day our people will return home, and Palestine will be free.”

Some 3,500 Palestinians were massacred by a right-wing Christian militia known as the Phalangists in a three-day killing spree in September 1982.

They were aided by Israeli forces, who held the camp under siege and ushered them inside in the full knowledge that they were executing innocent civilians.

Saeed was just eight years old at the time of the massacre, but says that he has relived the events every day for the past 39 years.

He saw six members of his family killed and only survived himself by chance, he says, as the soldier shooting them was interrupted.

“They came to our house and made me, my older brother and my father watch them rape my mother and sisters. 

“After killing them, they started to shoot us. My father fell down dead. There was blood everywhere,” he said.

The ceremony, organised by the International Committee to Commemorate the Sabra and Shatila Massacre, was addressed by the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, the mayor of Ghobeiry Hajj Maan al-Khalil and Hezbollah spokesman Hajj Hassan Hoballah.

Hamas, which governs Palestine’s Gaza Strip, said that the events of Sabra and Shatila “will never be forgiven or forgotten with the passing of time.”

In a statement it said: “Massacres won’t break the Palestinian people’s steadfastness” and that the fight for justice for the martyrs would continue.

Despite the UN General Assembly stating in December 1982 that the events were a genocide — under opposition from the US, Britain, Canada and others — nobody has been held accountable for the killings.

The 1983 report found that then Israeli defence chief Ariel Sharon bore personal responsibility for the massacre. He resigned after mass protests but was later to become Israeli prime minister.

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