Press Releases

(Witness): Decades on, beloved ones of Sabra and Shatila massacre victims tirelessly seek the elusive justice

September, 2023 marks the 41st anniversary of Sabra and Shatila massacre that took place by Israeli occupation forces and Israeli-backed Lebanese forces during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The American writer Ralph Schoenman testified before the Oslo Investigation Committee in October 1982 that around 4500 people of 12 nationalities were killed, most of which were Palestinian refugees and Lebanese citizens. While 482 of the victims are to date missing or kidnapped, according to the Palestinian writer Bayan Nuwayhed al Hout’s book "Sabra and Shatila, September 1982”.

The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and over the world commemorate annually this tragic incident, unequivocally underscoring that crimes shall not be subject to a statute of limitations and families’ call to prosecute those involved will persist. This crime qualifies as war crime and crime against humanity and has been carried out on an extensive scale, with its horrific nature defying human comprehension. Surprisingly, none of those implicated in the Sabra and Shatila massacre have yet faced justice.

According to Israeli investigation committee "Kahan Committee”, Human Rights Watch said that Ariel Sharon, the minister of defense back then, permitted the entrance of Lebanese militias to the two camps where they sowed terror and fear among residents for three days in a row. The organization also indicated that Sharon who passed away in 2014 wasn’t held accountable for his involvement in the massacre, despite vigorous attempts to prosecute him in Belgium, based on a lawsuit filed by survivors who are demanding Sharon's prosecution under Belgian universal jurisdiction law.

The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) indicated that legal pursuits have hit a brick wall especially after the closure of the only lawsuit brought in this matter by Belgian courts in 2001. This incident caused political uproar and diplomatic crisis between Israel and Belgium that in turn amended the universal jurisdiction law for genocide crimes which allowed the prosecution of those involved in genocide and crimes against humanity in Belgium, regardless of their presence there or nationality.

Although the United Nations was fully aware of its duty to safeguard Palestinian civilians after the Palestinian fighters departed Lebanon, crimes were committed without apprehension or reluctance by the perpetrators.

The Palestinian Association for Human rights (Witness) affirms that perpetrators from Israeli soldiers and leaders and Lebanese militias can’t evade accountability however long it takes and they must eventually be brought to trial.