Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights University of Ottawa (SPHR) is a student run, non-profit organization that advocates on a strong social justice platform to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people in the face of human rights violations and all forms of racism, discrimination, misinformation and misrepresentation.

September 21, 2007

Remembering the horrors that took place at Sabra and Shatilla

This week marks the 25th anniversary of one of the grimmest moments in the
history of the Palestinian diaspora. On September 16th, 1982, militants
from the radical Phalange faction entered the Palestinian refugee camps of
Sabra and Shatilla - under the watchful eye of their powerful ally, Ariel
Sharon and his Israeli forces, who had surrounded the camps with tanks and
soldiers, allowing none in or out without their knowing. Earlier that week,
the notorious Phalange leader Bashir Gemayel was assassinated; the
approximately 150-strong Phalange militia force believed the perpetrators of
the attack to be in the refugee camps.

September 15th, the day after the death of Gemayel, the Israeli Defense
Forces executed military operations allowing for the safe entry of the
militants. The following morning, Israeli snipers fired into the camp as
rockets bombarded the inhabitants. By about 5pm, the militants entered the
camp to "mop up" the Palestinian camps. The 40 hours saw the Phalange armed
force injure, rape, murder and brutalize what was mainly unarmed civilians -
including a large number of women and children. Further refugees were later
rounded up with the assistance of the Israeli army and were later
"disappeared." The total number of dead is estimated between 800 (the
insensitively conservative Israeli estimate) and 3000.

We are now 25 years after the commission of such horrible crimes against
humanity. Immediately after the massacres a parliamentary commission found
the Sharon to be "personally responsible" for the massacres and, due to
mounting pressure, he resigned from his position as Minister of Defense. No
further legal action has interrupted Sharon's otherwise illustrious
political and military career, nor the careers of other responsible

Despite the grimness of the revelations concerning the massacres, there has
been little media outcry in the Western media. On the 25th anniversary,
there was major newspaper story dedicated to the victims; no is being asked
"where were you when you found out?" However, such a cold-blooded failure
of humanity must never be forgotten. And this week we pay tribute to those
innocents who lost their lives in such a barbaric fashion.

In Solidarity,
Thomas Shields

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