The World According To...

Victims the world has forgotten: On the site of the 1982 massacres in Beirut

September 2000: Robert Fisk revisits Sabra and Chatila, where survivors recount the atrocity

Saturday 19 February 2022 21:30
Comments
<p>A Palestinian woman holds up a portrait of her dead husband after the massacre in Sabra in 1982 </p>

A Palestinian woman holds up a portrait of her dead husband after the massacre in Sabra in 1982

They are bulldozing the garbage from the small plot of land behind the plane trees of Sabra and Chatila. Cheap concrete blocks are being laid to form a makeshift dais for speakers. A black flag has been draped by the wall to remind the Palestinians – as if they could forget – that here lies the mass grave of hundreds of their relatives. Up to 400 corpses lie beneath the soft red earth. Up to 2,000 died. But only now, 18 years after the majzara, the massacre, has the atrocity been commemorated.

Of course, if it had happened in a land to the south of here – a land called Israel, which the Palestinians of Sabra and Chatila still call Palestine – the world’s press would gather each year at this time to honour the dead. Mercifully, Israel has never suffered such a slaughter. But if it had, the American president would surely make an annual pilgrimage to the site. Certainly, every US presidential hopeful would turn up. Relatives of the dead would be treated with reverence and generosity.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in