Photo credit: Unspecified AFP Photograph
Date taken: September 19, 1982
Location: Sabra Refugee Camp, Beirut, Lebanon
A Palestinian woman cries while civil defense workers remove the body of her relative from the rubble of her home in the Sabra refugee camp in the hours following a three-day massacre that claimed the lives of thousands.
Under the order and protection of the Israeli military, Christian Phalange forces carried out a three-day slaughter of the populations in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, killing more than 3,000 Palestinian civilians in chilling, ruthless fashion. Declared three months later by the United Nations as a deliberate act of genocide, the massacre, which began on September 16 and lasted until September 18, sought to cause as much lasting damage and trauma as possible. Aside from the execution-style killings, many male bodies were castrated, many women were torn up their torsos, and the limbs of infants were found scattered in piles of garbage. Hundreds of men were ushered away from their homes and, in many accounts, toward a stadium, never to be heard from again. Meanwhile, Israeli military personnel keeping ongoing tabs on the massacre did nothing but encourage further bloodshed.
Unless one has survived something of this nature in the past, it is impossible to fathom just how dark those three days must have been. Just the name itself is enough to send chills down one’s spine. Personally, it took many years for me to finally read up on the Sabra and Shatila massacre. I’ve written about that here: The element of familiarity that rears its ugly head in Sabra and Shatila. But the more I learn, the more unfathomable it all becomes. How does one rebuild after something so horrific?