What caused the Lebanon war in 1982

Palestinian bloodbath

The massacre in the Sabra and Shatila camps was only possible in connection with the political events of those years. A civil war has been raging in Lebanon since 1975, with the PLO led by Yasser Arafat in the middle. Then, on June 6, 1982, the Israelis came. Defense Minister Ariel Sharon wanted above all to destroy the PLO in Lebanon and thus also bring an Israel-friendly government to power. A UN observation force had been stationed in the south of the country since 1978. Your spokesman at the time, Timor Goksel, still remembers the day when Sharon's troops came.

"When we crossed the border, we realized that we were really in the shit. The Israelis' military convoys with electricity generators were kilometers long. We knew they wanted to stay longer in Lebanon. Exactly at 10:35 am, the first Israeli tanks were in front of the Dutch UN checkpoint. The six Dutch soldiers threw anti-tank barriers on the streets and at least brought two Israeli tanks to a standstill. Then the Dutch could do nothing but take souvenir photos. So the war began. "

In his Beirut apartment, the Lebanese ex-general Amin Hotet bends over the map. The highly respected Shiite military expert still has every detail of the advance of the Israeli troops in his head.

"The Israeli advance on the coast encountered no significant resistance. In three days they were in Sidon. The entire area south of Sidon, Jezzine and Hasbaya was taken by the Israeli troops practically without a fight. An Israeli officer said proudly that we are advanced all over southern Lebanon to Zahrani without firing a single shot. "

For the Israelis it was like a picnic excursion in the beginning. After twelve days they were at the gates of the Lebanese capital. The western part of Beirut, the stronghold of the armed PLO fighters, was surrounded by Israeli troops. Less than three months later they found themselves in the middle of the swamp of the Lebanese civil war. The ride was over. Sharon had relied too much on the statements of the radical Christian Falangists led by Beshir Gemayel. The black and white thinking, here the good Christians, there the bad Muslims with the PLO - it didn't work at all in Lebanon. At the beginning of September 1982, events then rolled over. Yasser Arafat had to leave Lebanon with his PLO fighters. On September 14, Beshir Gemayel, Sharon's main ally and new president-elect, was killed in an assassination attempt in Beirut. A day later, Israeli troops entered West Beirut and encircled the Sabra and Shatila camps, where Palestinian and Lebanese civilians lived. Nobody was allowed out anymore. Then on September 16, the Israelis let their Christian allies into the camps. The first radio report by the then ARD correspondent gave an idea of ​​what happened afterwards.

"Here is Gerd Schneider in Beirut. How many people really died in the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian camps will probably never be able to be determined exactly. I myself saw around 100 corpses this morning."

With the approval of the Israelis, under their protection and with their help, the Christian murder gangs raged for two days in the camps and then in the nearby sports stadium. With a British correspondent, Yachyiah Itani was one of the first to pass the Israeli post and into the camps.

"I saw about 500 corpses. Most of them weren't shot, but killed with knives, swords or axes. We were only about 300 meters down the street. Then I couldn't take it anymore and drove home. I can still do it today don't forget. These terrible pictures will always stay in my memory. "

The 29-year-old Naval Abu Rudaina kneels on the floor of her small apartment in the Sabra camp, the bricks of which are poorly held together with mortar. She leafed through old newspapers with reports on the massacre and pulled yellowed pictures of her 16 family members murdered in the bloodbath from an envelope.

"We were in the house when they came. They took my father out and cut his head off with the ax. He was killed on the street, where they lined up the men in long lines before they killed them. They also murdered mine Sister, who was seven months pregnant. Then they cut open her belly and strangled the unborn baby. "

Anyone walking through the narrow streets of Sabra and Shatila today, over which the electric wires dangle loosely from house to house, will still meet many people who describe the cruel events of 25 years ago as the young Naval did. The Institute for Palestinian Studies in Beirut has evaluated all these personal experiences and countless files for 20 years. The Sabra and Shatila massacre is fully documented in this way, reports institute director Sakr Abu Fakhr.

"According to our detailed research, we assume that the number of those killed does not exceed 1,400. Among them are 900 Palestinians, 120 to 130 Lebanese and Syrians, as well as Algerians and other Arabs. We do not know whether about 300 people who are still missing died in the camps or were killed elsewhere. The Force Lebanese militia murdered every Palestinian they found on the street or anywhere else. "

The Christian militias had murdered the Palestinians in the refugee camps. Not the Israeli soldiers who invaded Lebanon in June and advanced to Beirut in days. Official Israel declined any responsibility for the massacres. In the Knesset, Israel's parliament, Defense Secretary Ariel Sharon said a week after the carnage:

"I did not come to explain this terrible tragedy. Because it belongs to a world of dark instincts and not to us. It belongs to those who carried out the massacres, and I hope that they will receive their punishment."

In fact, there is still no conclusive evidence that Israeli soldiers were personally involved in the massacres, explains journalist Amnon Kapeliouk. At the time, he reported on the Israeli invasion of Lebanon for the French daily Le Monde. And in December 1982 he published a book about the bloodbath of Sabra and Shatila.

"The Israelis were informed by Eli Hobeika, who was their ally. He reported to them and they knew how many people were murdered. I described this in my book about the massacre. The Israelis who were out and paying attention , knew everything. Israel opened the doors for them and gave them bulldozers. Israel lit the night with flares. Everything the Falangists wanted, they got. "

Israel had paved the way for the Falangists and opened the doors. For weeks the troops had bombed the PLO headquarters in Beirut. Thousands of civilians were killed. The goal was clear: Sharon wanted to drive the PLO, the terrorists, as it was called at the time, out of the neighboring country.

"His interest was to drive out the Palestinians, to drive out the PLO. It was the solution to the Palestinian question. And it would not have been possible without the massacre. So they were looking for someone to do it. The Israelis did not even have to go to it themselves Go into the camp, they didn't have to get their hands dirty because others did that. "

According to Kapeliouk, the Falangists wanted to murder and expel the refugees and level the camps. A zoo was to be built in their place. This plan also suited the Israeli defense minister. Because Sharon didn't just want to drive the armed PLO fighters out of Lebanon. All Palestinians, including civilians, i.e. refugees, should leave the country. The Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery was the publisher and editor-in-chief of the left-liberal weekly Ha'olam Hazeh. Months before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, after a long conversation with Sharon, he published the Defense Minister's secret plan:

"The plan of Ariel Sharon was to set up a Maronite-Christian dictator in Lebanon, to drive the Palestinians from Lebanon to Syria, so that the Syrians should continue to drive them to Jordan. There the Palestinians should make a revolution against the king, a Palestinian republic in Jordan and therefore turn the conflict into a conflict between two states Israel and Palestine, Palestine across the Jordan. The massacre was a clear part of that plan. How do you get the Palestinians to flee Lebanon to Syria? It was not caused a Maronite massacre that Israel watched. It was a massacre ordered by Israel. "

The monks of the Monastery of Saint Anthony of Qozhaya, it is the oldest Maronite Christian monastery in Lebanon. It is difficult to access in the mountains in the northeast of the country and clings to a steep slope, its abbot is Antoine Tahan:

"You know, being a Maronite is a mission. We have been around for 1400 years - at least - and when we talk about the Maronites we are talking about a culture, a heritage, a tradition, a religion. We are here to portray the true picture of the Church and the Maronite people. "

The mountains of the Lebanon range are the heartland of the Maronites. They had come here once, from the Syrian Orontes Valley, about a thousand years ago, on the run from the Byzantines. Since they were united with Rome, the Maronites always looked to the west. For a long time they saw themselves as the founders and guardians of Lebanon, a country that, from their point of view, was Christian and had little in common with neighboring countries. The feeling of being different also manifested itself in the mid-1930s in the emergence of a Maronite national movement, the Falangists. Your founder: Pierre Gemayel. For Pierre Gemayel and the Falangists, the Palestinians once embodied everything that was rejected in Arab Muslims - including a reaction to the fact that the PLO in Lebanon had become a state within a state. British journalist Robert Fisk knew Gemayel well.

"The Falangists stood up for order in the civil war, we have to have order, we have to stop these Palestinian terrorists in the camps. It was always about the Palestinians being garbage people dumped in Lebanon. And that's how they saw themselves Falangists always more than the actual Lebanese, the Phoenicians, the civilized people - as opposed to the uncivilized Muslims and Palestinians. This super-racial element that some are pure-blooded Lebanese, but the others, the Palestinians, are garbage and subhumans - that had a fascist undertone. "

No wonder: Pierre Gemayel was once inspired by Germany:

"The last time I met him before his death, I asked him mainly about the connections between the Falangists and Nazi Germany. I had heard that he was enthusiastic about the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He said:" Yes , I was there. I was very impressed that there was order in Germany, and I thought at the time that we in Lebanon also need such order. "There is an old photo of the first uniformed meeting of the Falangists in Beirut in 1936, and they were all doing the Nazi there -Greeting."

In the civil war from 1975 the armed arm of the Falangists was absorbed into the Forces Libanaises, and they allied with the Israelis. Some of the militiamen were trained in Israel.

"Nobody was brought to trial in Lebanon, Lebanon only reacted to the years of violence with amnesty laws. This amnesty law also allowed all former warlords, among other things, to return as politicians today and to sit in government again today - it's Walid Jumblatt, it's Nabih Berri, it's Samir Geagea, it's Michel Aoun - everyone is back. "

Monika Borgmann lives in Beirut. For her film "Massacre", she tracked down six of the Sabra and Shatila militia officers and interviewed them for hours. Robert Fisk, who has been reporting from Lebanon for decades, believes that after the end of the civil war, the Lebanese ultimately had no other choice.

"In the war everyone was a war criminal. Then if you want to rebuild the country - only with clean people - you won't find anyone. That's the problem."

It was only the Sabra and Shatila massacre that shook the general public in Israel. Ran Cohen, a leading politician in the left-wing Meretz party and a reserve officer at the time, remembers.

"I found out about the massacre as all other citizens of Israel and the world learned about it. It slowly became clear and there was great horror that the bloodbath had happened under the eyes of the Israeli army. Although the murderers themselves were not the Israeli soldiers We were very appalled by this and immediately began to organize a large demonstration, which became the largest demonstration in the history of the State of Israel. The demonstrators knew that we were responsible in Lebanon and that it was our responsibility Schutz such a terrible massacre was perpetrated on women and children and old people, on innocent civilians. The Israeli conscience could not bear that. "

The Tel Aviv rally went down in Israeli history as the 400,000 demonstration. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the central square in Tel Aviv the day before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and called for Sharon's resignation. It was the beginning of a new protest movement. But was the bloodbath of the Palestinian refugees also a turning point in Israel's political life? Peace activist Uri Avnery is skeptical.

"Unfortunately not. The demonstration was very impressive, it was real, it was authentic, it was spontaneous. The hundreds of thousands that were there were real, they were shocked. I'm not sure if something like this would happen today, whether we would bring hundreds of thousands together for such a demonstration. Since then, Israel has been very brutalized. You have got used to atrocities, you hear stories almost every day that should shake you, but that was real back then. "

As always on the anniversary of the massacre, Lebanon's best-known writer, Elias Khoury, will again this year lay flowers on the site of the mass grave with a few Palestinians and Lebanese. There will be no commemoration in the European sense. Why this is not the case is described by Khoury, who has dealt with the Palestinian soul like no other.

"The problem with Palestinian memory, with memory - and I discovered that when I was writing my novel 'The Gate of the Sun' - you don't really write about history. The Palestinian tragedy is just not the past. It is still relevant. You see that in Gaza, the West Bank and also in the camps in Lebanon. The past is so present that it is not perceived and committed as the past. That is the problem with the Palestinian coming to terms with history. "