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Munir’s Story: 28 years after the Massacre at Sabra-Shatila


Posted on May 09, 2012 by Marivel Guzman

Original Story Published on September 07, 2010

By Dr. Franklin Lamb

The author seen with children at Shatila Refugee Camps, unaware that some of their relatives and families’ friends were among the hundreds butchered against 11 such “walls of death” 28 years ago, on September 16-18, 1982. Photo: Courtesy of the author, Dr. Franklin Lamb.

The untreated psychic wounds are still open. Accountability, justice and basic civil rights for the survivors are still denied.

Scores of horror testimonies have been shared over the past nearly three decades by survivors of the September 1982 Sabra- Shatila massacre. More come to light only through circumstantial evidence because would be affiants perished during the slaughter. Other eyewitness are just beginning to emerge from deep trauma or self imposed silence.

Some testimonies will be shared this month by massacre survivors at Shatila camp. They will sit with the ever growing numbers of international visitors who annually come to commemorate one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century.

There are no average massacre testimonies.

Zeina, a handsome bronzed-faced middle-aged woman, an acquaintance of Munir Mohammad’s family, asked a foreigner the other day: “How can it be 28 years? I think it was just last fall that my husband Hussam and our two daughters, Maya, 8 years old, and Sirham, 9 years old, left our two room home to search for food because the Israeli army had sealed Shatila camp nearly two days before and few inside Shatila Camp had any. I still pray and wait for them to return.”

In Shatila Palestinian refugee camp and outside Abu Yassir’s shelter, the bullet marks still cover the lower half of the 11 “walls of death” where some of the dried blood is mixed and feathered in with the thin mortar. An elderly gentleman named Abu Samer still has some souvenirs of the event: three American automatic pistols fitted with silencers, a couple of knives and axes that were strapped to some of the killers belts as they quickly and silently shot, carved and chopped whoever they came upon starting at around 6 pm on Thursday September 16, 1982. Plus a couple of whisky bottles. These weapons were gifted to Israel by the US Congress and subsequently issued along with drugs and alcohol and other “policing equipment” to the killers in his “most moral army” by Ariel Sharon.

Earlier this year, one of the murderers from the Numour al-Ahrar (Tigers of the Liberals) militia, the armed wing of Lebanon’s right-wing National Liberal Party founded by former Lebanese President Camille Chamoun, nonchalantly confessed, “we sometimes used these implements in order to advance silently through the alleys of Shatila so as not to cause unnecessary panic during our work.” The Tigers militia, one of five Christian killer units, was assisted inside Shatila by more than two dozen Israeli Mossad agents, and led in this blitz by none other than Dani Chamoun, son of the former President.

No plaque or sign notes what happened here.

The world learned of the slaughter at Sabra-Shatila on the morning of Sunday September 19, 1982. Photos, many now available on the Internet, taken by witnesses such as Ralph Shoneman, Mya Shone, Ryuichi Hirokawa, Ali Hasan Salman, Ramzi Hardar, Gunther Altenburg, and Gaza and Akka Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) Hospital staff, preserve the gruesome images deeply etched in the survivors memory. The Israeli Kahan Commission, five months later in its February 7, 1983 Report, substantially whitewashed Israeli responsibility referring more than once to the massacre as “a war.”

Zeina ushered me down a narrow alley from her house arriving at the 3 by 8 meter wall outside her sister’s home, spraying here and there with an aerosol can as we walked. She apologized for the spray but insisted that she and her neighbors could even now smell the slaughter that happened there three decades earlier.

For readers unfamiliar with the location of Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp in Beirut, this particular “wall of death” is located across from the PRCS Akka Hospital, such as it is, after years without adequate financial or NGO support. Locating the 11 “walls of death” requires help from the few older Palestinians who still live in this quarter. They are among those still living at the scene and who still vividly recall the details of the massacre. Some provide personal history of some of the butchered, seemingly urging the dead to return by making them seem so alive, often describing a personality trait and the name of their family village in Palestine.

“A sweet boy who adored his older brothers Mutid and Bilal.”

Zeina recalls that Munir Mohammad was 12 years old on September 16, 1982, a pupil at the Shatila camp school, named Jalil (Galilee). Virtually all of the 75 remaining UNRWA schools in Lebanon, like other Palestinian institutions, are named after villages, towns or cities in occupied Palestine. Often they are named after villages that no longer actually exist, being among the 531 villages the Zionists colonizers obliterated during and after the 1947-48 Nakba (Catastrophe).

Zeina recalls that it was late on a Thursday afternoon, September 16, that the Israeli shelling had grown intense. Designed to drive the camp residents into the shelters, almost all of which Israeli intelligence, arriving the previous day in three white vehicles and posing as “concerned NGO staff” had identified and noted the coordinates on their maps. Some residents, thinking aid workers had come to help the refugees, actually revealed their secret sanctuaries. Other refugees, based on their experience in the crowded shelters during the preceding 75 days of indiscriminate, “Peace for Galilee” Israeli bombing of Shatila, suggested to the “aid workers” that the shelters needed better ventilation and perhaps the visitors would help provide it.

According to Zeina the Israeli agents quickly sketched the shelter locations, marked them with a red circle and returned to their HQ which was located less than 70 meters on the raised terrain at the SE corner of Shatila camp still known as Turf Club Yards. Today, this sandy area still contains three death pits which according to the late American journalist Janet Stevens is where some of the hundreds of still missing bodies of the more than 3,000 slaughtered are likely buried. Janet had theorized that there was a second Sabra-Shatila Massacre that occurred on Sunday morning, September 19th, which piggybacked the first and was conducted on the west side of Shatila inside the second Israeli-Phalange HQ, known as the Cite Sportiff athletic complex. As the Israeli soldiers took custody from the Phalange militia of the surviving refugees, trucks entered Cite Sportiff loaded with hundreds of camp residents on the back to be taken to “holding centers”. Family members forced to wait outside heard volleys of gunfire and screams from inside the complex. Hours later the same flat beds drove away to unknown locations, tarps covering the unseen mounded cargo.

Camp resident, Mrs. Sana Mahmoud Sersawi, one of the 23 complainants in the Belgium case filed against Ariel Sharon on June 16, 2001, (currently but not fatally sidetracked) explained:

“The Israelis who were posted in front of the Kuwaiti embassy and at the Rihab benzene station at the entrance to Shatila demanded through loudspeakers that we come to them. That’s how we found ourselves in their hands. They took us to the Cite Sportiff, and the men were marched behind us. But they took the men’s shirts off and started blindfolding them. The Israelis interrogated the young people and the Phalange delivered about 200 more people to the Israelis. And that’s how neither my husband nor my sister’s husband ever came back.”

Journalist Robert Fisk and others who studied these events, concur that more slaughter was done during the 24 hour period after 8 a.m. Saturday, the hour the Israeli Kahan Commission, which declined to interview any Palestinians, ruled that the Israelis had stopped all the killing.

Eyewitness testimony also established that the “aid workers” described by Zeina passed the shelter descriptions and locations to Lebanese Forces operatives Elie Hobeika and Fadi Frem, and their ally, Major Saad Haddad of the Israeli-allied South Lebanese Army. Thursday evening, Hobeika, de facto commander since the assassination the week previously of Phalange leader and President-elect Bachir Gemayel, led one of the death squads inside the killing field of the Horst Tabet area near Abu Yassir’s shelter.

It was in 8 of the 11 Israeli-located and marked shelters that the first of the massacre victims were quickly and methodically slaughtered. There being few perfect crimes, even in massacres, the killers failed to find 3 of the shelters. One of the overlooked shelters was just 25 meters from Abu Yassir’s shelter. Apart from these three undiscovered hiding places there were practically no Shatila shelter survivors.

American journalist David Lamb wrote about this first night of butchery and the “walls of death”:

“Entire families were slain. Groups consisting of 10-20 people were lined up against walls and sprayed with bullets. Mothers died while clutching their babies. All men appeared to be shot in the back. Five youths of fighting age were tied to a pickup truck and dragged through the streets before being shot.”

At around about 8 p.m. on September 18 Munir Mohammad entered the crowded Abu Yassir shelter with his mother Aida and his sisters and brothers Iman, Fadya, Mufid and Mu’in. Keeping the relatively few camp shelters for the woman and children while the men took their chances outside was a common practice as the massacre unfolded. But a few men did enter to help calm their young children.

“If any of you are injured, we’ll take you to the hospital.”

Munir later recalled events that night: “The killers arrived at the door of the shelter and yelled for everyone to come out. Men who they found were lined up against the wall outside. They were immediately machine gunned.” As Munir watched, the killers left to kill other groups and then suddenly returned and opened fire on everyone, and all fell to the ground. Munir lay quietly not knowing if his mother and sisters were dead. Then he heard the killers yelling: “If any of you are injured, we’ll take you to the hospital. Don’t worry. Get up and you’ll see.” A few did try to get up or moaned and they were instantly shot in the head.

Munir remembered: “Even though it was light out due to the Israeli flares over Shatila, the killers used bright flash lights to search the darkened corners. The killers were looking in the shadows”. Suddenly Munir’s mother’s body seemed to shift in the mound of corpses next to him. Munir thought she might be going to get up since the killers promised to take anyone still alive to the hospital. Munir whispered to her: “Don’t get up mother, they’re lying”. And Munir stayed motionless all night barely daring to breath, pretending to be dead.

Munir could not block out the killers words. Years later he would repeat to this interviewer as we passed the Shatila Burial ground known as Martyrs Square:

“After they shot us, we were all down on the ground, and they were going back and forth, and they were saying: ‘If any of you are still alive, we’ll have mercy and pity and take them to the hospital. Come on, you can tell us.’ If anyone moaned, or believed them and said they needed an ambulance, they would be rescued with shots and finished off there and then…What really disturbed me wasn’t just the death all around me. I…didn’t know whether my mother and sisters and brother had died. I knew most of the people around me had died. And it’s true I was afraid of dying myself. But what disturbed me so very much was that they were laughing, getting drunk and enjoying themselves all night long. They threw blankets on us and left us there till morning. All night long [Thursday the 16th) I could hear the voices of the girls crying and screaming, ‘For god’s sake, leave us alone.’ I mean…I can’t remember how many girls they raped. The girl’ voice, with their fear and pain, I can’t ever forget them.”

The same kind of dégagé is displayed by the half dozen confessed militia murderers featured in German director Monika Borgmann’s 2005 film Massaker, one of whom opined: “With hanging or shooting you just die, but this is double,” explaining how he took an old Palestinian man and held him back against a wall, slicing him open in the shape of a cross. “You die twice since you also die from the fear,” he said nonchalantly describing white flesh and bone as if in a charcuterie waiting to be served.

The killers also explained how they began a frantic rush to dispose of as many bodies as possible before the media entered Shatila. One testified how the Israeli army gave them large plastic trash bags to dispose of bodies. Another confessed that they forced people into army trucks to ferry them to Cite Sportiff where they were killed. And that they used chemicals to destroy many of the corpses. Several mentioned that Israeli army officers conferred with the militia’s leaders in Beirut on the eve of the massacres.

The venomous hatred persists to this day.

To this day, the Hurras al-Arz (Guardians of the Cedars) boasts of its role in the carnage. Less than two weeks before the massacre the party issued a call for the confiscation of all Palestinian property in Lebanon, the outlawing of home ownership and the destruction of all refugee camps.

The party statement of September 1, 1982 declared: “Action must be taken to reduce the numbers of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, until the day comes when no single Palestinian remains on our soil.”

In 1982 certain political parties referred to Palestinians as “a bacillus which must be exterminated” and graffiti on walls read: “The duty of every Lebanese is to kill a Palestinian”–the same hatred commonly expressed today in occupied Palestine among colonists, extremist Rabbis and politicians.

The ‘Guardians’ call for outlawing Palestinian refugee property ownership was indeed achieved in 2001 by a law drafted by current Minister of Labor, who pledged on September 1, 2010 that “Parliament will never allow Palestinian refugees the right to own property.”

The mentality that allowed the Massacre at Sabra-Shatila 1982 is largely unchanged in 2010, as Lebanon still resists the call of the international community to grant the survivors of the Sabra-Shatila massacre basic civil rights. Some who have studied the Arabic websites and observed gatherings of the political parties represented at the 1982 massacre, claim the hate language is actually worse today and is being used to stir up Parliamentary opposition Palestinian civil rights.

During the month following the 1982 Massacre, British Dr. Paul Morris treated Munir at Gaza Hospital approximately one kilometer north of Abu Yassir’s shelter, and kept the youngster under observation. Dr. Morris reported to researcher Bayan Nuwayhed al Hout (Sabra and Shatila: September 1982, Pluto Press, London, 2004) that Munir “Will smile once in a while, but he doesn’t react spontaneously like others of this age, except just occasionally.” Then the doctor banged on the table, and said: ‘The lad has to be saved. He has to leave the camp, if only for a while, to recover himself.”

When Munir was asked by al Hout if one day when he grew up and would be able to carry a weapon would he consider revenge. The pre-teen replied, replied: “No, No. I’d never think of revenge by killing children. The way they killed us. What did the children do wrong?”

Munir’s 15 year old brother Mufid was among the first to enter Abu Yassir’s shelter, but he left and later appeared at Akka Hoppital with a gunshot wound. After being bandaged he left the hospital to seek safety and his family. No one has seen him since and for a long time Munir could not even mention him.

According to camp residents, Munir’s older brother, Nabil, then 19 years old, being of fighting age would have been shot on sight by the killers. Aware of this, Nabil’s cousin and his cousin’s wife fled with him as the Israeli shelling increased and camp residents reported indiscriminate killing. The trio dodged sniper bullets to seek refuge in a nursing home where his aunt worked. Like Munir, Nabil soon learned that his mother and siblings were all dead.

Now in America, both Munir and Nabil are leading relatively ‘normal lives’ considering the horror and lost family they experienced while escaping death at Sabra-Shatila. Munir and Nabil have become a credit to Shatila camp, to Palestine and to their adopted country. Residing in the Washington DC area, Munir is married and busy with his career. Nabil is devoting his life to advocacy for peace and justice in the Middle East, working with an NGO. Both brothers return to Shatila camp regularly.

Also apparently living ‘normal lives’ are the six “Christian” militia killers featured in Borgmann’s film Massaker. “They are all living ordinary lives. One of them is a taxi driver,” Borgmann explains.

As is well known, the massacres at Sabra-Shatila were undeniable war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Each killing was a violation of international laws enshrined in the Fourth Geneva Convention, International Customary Law and jus cogens. Similar massive crimes have seen charges brought against Rwandan officials, Chile’s ex-president, General Augusto Pinochet, Chad’s former president, Hissein Habre, former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Liberia’s Taylor and Sudan’s Bachir.

No one has been punished or even investigated for the Sabra-Shatila massacre. On March 28, 1991 Lebanon’s Parliament retroactively exempted the killers from criminal responsibility. However, this law has no standing in international law and the international community remains legally obligated to punish those responsible. The victims and their families of the Sabra-Shatila massacre as well as virtually all human rights organizations including but not limited to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Humanitarian Law Project, strenuously oppose blanket amnesty for the killers. They argue that the 1991 violates Lebanon’s constitution, as well as international law and promotes impunity for heinous crimes.

It was precisely to achieve justice for the victims of crimes such as Sabra-Shatila that the International Criminal Court was established. The ICC must begin its work without further delay and all people of goodwill must encourage Lebanon to grant the survivors of the Sabra-Shatila Massacre basic civil rights.

Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon and is doing research in Lebanon for his next book. He can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com

Also see:

A Letter To Janet About Sabra-Shatilla By Franklin Lamb

PALESTINIANS IN LEBANON; RAW DEAL


Posted on 23 Jul, 2010 by Marivel Guzman

Dr Franklin Lamb

Palestinians Refugees-October 30, 1948  JalilShatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut

“Some members of Parliament prefer that the camps explode and then they will insist that, “Palestinian security problems must be resolved before Parliament can consider giving them civil rights”—meaning several more years of delay.  That would be a disaster for all concerned.”
‘Ahmad’, Resident of Al-Buss refugee camp, Tyre, Lebanon;

Following some initial optimism after MP Walid Jumblatt’s June 15 introduction of draft legislation that would exempt Palestinians from the Kafkaesque work permit process, grant them the right to own a home outside their oxygen scarce ‘sardine can’ camps, and allow them to receive some worker paid earned social security benefits, progress has dramatically slowed .

During last week’s Parliamentary session Head of the Administration and Justice parliamentary committee, MP Robert Ghanem, reiterated his request to Berri and Parliament for a two-month “rest period”. Premier Saad Hariri called for postponing the voting for “two months or two months and a half.” Several other members asked the same. Parliament Speaker Berri quickly agreed and postponed voting on the subject until August 17, adding that “…the law will not pass unless it enjoys consensus among Lebanese parties.”

Some supporters of Palestinian civil rights see problems with more delays and with Berri’s “no passage of civil rights without consensus”. What is meant by consensus? A simple majority plus one, two-thirds or..? “ Does it mean taking no legislative action on Palestinians civil rights unless and until MP Jumblatt can agree with MP Sami Gemayel-normally polar opposites on important issues?.  Others argue that Berri has no authority to require ‘consensus’ as it would likely mean any proposal will deteriorate into the lowest common denominator with virtually no rights being granted. Under the Lebanese Constitution, a law passes when it receives one more vote in favor than against and what is needed for passage is not determined by the Speaker. Some in Parliament are insisting on a straight up or down vote on bills presented on the subject of Palestinian civil rights. If Jumblatts or any other draft law garners 65 votes out of 128 it passes.
A review of Lebanon’s Parliamentary history shows that virtually all of Parliament’s important decisions have been made by a straight up or down vote, not ’consensus’. Surely one very important vote was the one that took place on August 17, 1970. The Parliamentary vote margin that elected ‘consensus’ candidate Suleiman Frangieh President of Lebanon over Elias Sarkis was one vote, a result of last minute vote switches engineered by Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt. Forty years later to the day, August 17, 2010, the ‘consensus’ vote” on Kamel’s son Walid’s historic Palestinian Civil Rights bill is scheduled for a vote.

InsaAllah? We hope so!

Ambivalence has spread around Parliament despite two additional measures being offered. One was introduced in Parliament in early July by the Syrian Socialist National Party (SSNP). This draft law closely reflects internationally mandated civil rights for refugees and of all the proposals to date the SSNP draft is what Parliament should enact to finally remedy six decades of civil wrongs. If enacted it would remedy the serial discrimination by successive Lebanese governments since the 1969-1982, “Ayyam al-Thawra” (“the Days of the Revolution”), when Palestinian refugees had many more employment prospects and benefited from improved camp living conditions. The SSNP proposal is a preferred “one package” solution that will avoid a protracted piece by piece process and would largely finish this urgent problem.

Faced with two substantive draft bills, the right wing Christian parties, often at odds, have joined ranks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s  ( “If it were up to me I would grant Palestinians their rights tomorrow”-April, 2010) Future Movement (“Muqtaqbal) to slam on the Parliamentary brakes. All the March 14th coalition except the Phalange Party have accepted this draft bill which currently has the most support in Parliament probably because it offers the refugees the least civil rights. According to its sponsors, the draft must be studied more before formally considered. A draft being circulated reveals that those refugees with a Palestinian ID Card approved by the Lebanese General Security can receive a temporary residency permit including a 5 year ‘laissez passer’ travel document but not the approximately 5000 non-ID’s who came in the 1970’s following Black September. Regrettably, this draft bill keeps the work permit and only amends Article 59 of the labor law in order to waive work permit fees for Palestinians. Nor does it allow participation in the 25 Syndicated Professions because it retains the impossible to meet Reciprocity requirements.
Some MPs are dexterous in their efforts to limit civil rights granted to Palestinians. MP Robert Ghanem, argued on 7/19/10 that work permits are good for Palestinians “because they will preserve the refugee status of Palestinians in Lebanon. We fear that if we exempted the Palestinians from a work permit, we will drop their refugee status and this does not come in line with their interests.” MP Ghanem surely is aware that being allowed to work is very much in line with the refugees interests and has nothing at all to do with “dropping their refugee status.” In fact they do not have refugee status as provided by international law. That is one of the main problems. Lebanon considers Palestinians variously as “foreigners”, “special category of foreigners” and other times a “Palestinian refugees” without allowing them the legal rights that their refugee status warrants.

With respect to Social Security benefits, the March 14 proposal requires that refugees pay into the Lebanese Social Security Fund but allows only for end of service and a family allowance payment. Its specifically forbids sickness, accident or maternity benefits to Palestinian refugees. Without health and accident coverage the incentive to even seek a work permit wanes. This ‘consensus’ proposal is more of a gesture than a solution and unless redrafted remains a bare bones proposal that will do little to provide internationally mandated civil rights. Nor will it satisfy the pursuit of genuine rights among Lebanon’s Palestinians, increasingly insisted on by the international community. Many Palestinians and their supporters are critical of this latest proposal and see it as offering ‘a little something’ that will allow its supporters to say, as one MP boasted last week: “we will finally have achieved something for the refugees and anyhow, how much more can we be expected to squeeze from our flesh for these Palestinians?”

No InsaAllah please! Just tell us Yes or No ok?

Meanwhile scores of Palestinians protested outside Parliament last week as Palestinian frustration continues to mount in the camps over delays in granting civil rights. True, it sounds nice enough and more likely than not it comes from lips with a smile, and the literal translation is good also: “God willing”.
However in reality, it’s a deadly and vicious expression that every guide book publisher on Lebanon has a moral duty to warn their readers about. For the real meanings of “InsaAllah” are: “probably not”, “almost certainly not going to happen”, “forget about it fool”, or simply, “no way and go away!” So if one is presented with the response, ‘InsaAllah’, whether by the office of the Speaker of Lebanon’s Parliament , or from someone you might be asking out on a date or trying to get something done in Lebanon, or tying to get civil rights legislation enacted into law, one has a big chance of being disappointed.

In Lebanon’s Parliament, about the worst thing that can happen to a members pet legislative initiative is to have it placed in “the InsaAllah drawer”, meaning it is set aside for ‘Enshalleh’ consideration sometime in the ‘InsaAllah’ future. Often never to be heard from. Some fear this is what may happen to proposals to grant Palestinian refugees their internationally mandated right to work and to own a home.

Other reasons for Parliamentary delay?

Some Parliament watchers speculate that certain members seek to delay granting Palestinians civil rights until the Special Tribunal for Lebanon hands down expected indictments, concerning the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. They calculate the STL announcements will dramatically increase Lebanese-Palestinian tensions. Change and Reform parliamentary bloc MP Michel Aoun (Free Patriotic Movement leader), no advocate of any meaningful civil rights for Palestinians, is warning of a US ‘green lighted’ Israeli invasion of Lebanon if the STL indicts “uncontrolled” Hezbollah members. Others claim the main problem is that Lebanon cannot move beyond the 1975-1990 Civil War and raising in Parliament the subject of Palestinians brings up also many painful memories that most of the confessions wish to forget.

While some political analysts in Lebanon think there is a chance that Parliament may well ease the restrictions on the right to work, there is still strong opposition to granting Palestinian refugees the internationally recognized right to own real property or even a single home–an international right allowed in all other countries. As a scare tactic on this issue the specter of ‘Naturalization’ is again raised even though it has nothing to do with home ownership.

If Israelites can buy homes in Lebanon why not Palestinian refugees?

There is no shortage of Lebanese politicians who will explain why Palestinian home ownership is out of the question including the claim that there is simply not enough land in crowded Lebanon for foreigners to be allowed to purchase any. Kataeb-Phalance bloc MP Elie Marouni told his followers on Bastille Day last week “that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon will never be naturalized as long as there are Christian believers who will sacrifice themselves for the sake of Lebanon. We don’t have the space.” His colleague and Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel warned the day before that “granting Palestinians the right to own property would lead to their naturalization”.

Neither of these leaders has explained why during the half century (1948-2001) when Palestinian refugees were allowed to own property the question of “naturalization” was never an issue. There was no problem. The fact is that the assertion that ‘naturalization’ would be the result of a refugee family owning a home is false and it is was invented solely for the reason that it provides ‘raw meat’ for detractors who basically don’t want any rights for any Palestinians no matter what the facts are.

According to Lebanese Human Rights Ambassador Ali Khalil: “Fanning the coals of ‘naturalization’ is a recent bogeyman meant to scare Christians who already are nervous because their numbers continue to shrink. Generally more affluent than other sects, they are able to leave Lebanon for better prospects. If Palestinians were able to work and became a bit more affluent many of them would leave also but that fact appears lost on those who prefer to keep them in squalid camps in Lebanon rather than allowing them to work and perhaps move out of Lebanon.”

The ‘not enough land for foreigners’ claim is faulty on two grounds. Regarding population density, in Saida’s Ein el Helwe Camp, the largest of the 12 in Lebanon, approximately 90,000 refugees are tightly packed into less than 1 km sq. area whereas the average Lebanese population density is close to 350 persons per sq, km.

Foreigners buy as much land in Lebanon as they wish and can afford despite the ‘legal’ limitations for foreigners of 3,000 sq. meters in Beirut and 5000 sq. meters outside Beirut. Foreigners regularly ignore the “law” and sometimes pay bribes to purchase whatever land they want and sometimes even citizenship.

Free Patriotic Movement leader and Hezbollah ally MP Michel Aoun is calling for a new law to reclaim property from foreign owners in response to complaints about his voicing strong objection to granting Palestinian refugees in Lebanon the right to own property.

“We can’t issue a law that gives the Palestinians the right to own property, but we can issue a law to reclaim properties owned by foreigners,” Aoun said with a straight face, adding that “Christian parties didn’t act with prejudice when the issue of civil rights for Palestinian refugees was raised. “Our stance is similar to that of the Phalange Party and the draft law would only be put to the vote of the parliament after being studied,” Aoun added. Some in Lebanon are waiting to see if General Aoun’s “No buying a little bit of Lebanon” law gets introduced in Parliament and what the US Congress and Arab league reaction will be if it does.

BayIt BeyLebnan? ( Hebrew for ‘your home in Lebanon?’)

The Israeli-American Likud banker and warmonger Irving I. Moscowitz, financial backer of the archeological tunnel in east Jerusalem and supporter, financially or otherwise, of virtually all Zionist groups developing stolen Palestinian land including his own properties in Maale Adumim, Har Homa in Palestinian east Jerusalem and Beitar Illit is claimed to have moved into the real estate market in Lebanon.

Regarding occupied Palestine, Moscowitz has for years advised would be investors, (ignoring the Geneva Conventions and settled International law) at Jewish only “real estate fairs” in American and European Synagogues: “Your investment is insured, protected and 100% legal. You should consider strengthening your portfolio and Israel’s future!”
Moscowitz is said to expect competition for Lebanese land from Lev Leviev, who the NYT refers to as ‘the missionary mogul”. Leviev, now the world’s largest cutter and polisher of diamonds, also specializes in illegal real estate developments on stolen Palestinian land. Leviev’s, Leader Management and Development, is currently building the settlement of Zufim on Palestinian land in the illegally occupied West Bank. When asked recently by Ha’aretz Daily if he has a problem building on expropriated Arab land he replied, “For me, Israel, Jerusalem, Lebanon are all the same.” So are the Golan Heights. As far as I’m concerned, all of Eretz Israel is holy. To decide the future of Jerusalem? It belongs to the Jewish people. What is there to decide? Jerusalem is not a topic for discussion.”

Both tell associates that with their American partners, they are moving into the Lebanese real estate market which they find attractive. If true, Lebanon’s Parliament might want to consider using some of the extra time they have extended themselves this summer, currently being devoted to sounding the ‘chicken little sky is falling’ alarm about Palestinians wanting to exercise their internationally mandated civil right to own a home pending their return to Palestine. Parliament should investigate claims that “American” companies”, some with 100% Israeli stockholders are buying up Lebanese land and using bribes to avoid Lebanese law.

‘Darwish’, a school teacher in South Lebanon explained this week what many Palestinians feel:
“My family home and property were stolen by Zionist thugs in Akkad in 1948 and also our cousin’s home outside Jerusalem. If you look at the current advertisement in Israeli newspapers, (‘Darwish shows a copy of an ad he printed off the internet from Haaretz.com that reads, “Own a little piece of Switzerland” which describes a quaint Swiss like scene, and it shows a bucollic vista that Darwish claims was his family’s village, now a Zionist colony.) so you see this is my problem. In Palestine our home was stolen and in Lebanon I cannot own one. Worse than this, it bothers me and my family that Zionists can now sell my land in Palestine to foreigners while as a Palestinian in Lebanon I cannot buy a temporary home. Israelites can invest their profits from our stolen Palestinian land and they can build homes in Lebanon and sell to other foreigners, but Palestinians can’t buy a home here. We have heard that some of the same “American and European” companies that sell our Palestinian land to foreigners in Palestinian now operate in Lebanon. One ‘American’ company is reported to have 11 stockholders. All of them Israelis”.

Parliament appears to be ‘playing’ the Palestinians this summer, as well as ‘playing’ the international community that expects more courage, compassion and respect for international human rights from a gifted people. Parliament risks degrading Lebanon in the process and its leaders should schedule a straight up vote without further dilatory tactics such a ‘more study’ and ‘building near unanimous consensus’ that appears designed to produce the lowest common denominator which means that without political will and courage it will likely produce not much at all.

Regarding six decades of annual calls for ‘more study of this sensitive problem’ there are already more than 30 studies completed just since 2000. They unanimously conclude what nearly every ten years old in Lebanon understands needs to be done and that is to grant the internationally mandated right to work, to own, inherit and bequeath a home, and access to some social security protection without further dilatory tactics.

LACK OF RIGHTS
• Palestine refugees lack many basic rights, are restricted from employment in
most professions and are not allowed to own property
• Palestine refugees have extremely limited access to the legal system
• Palestine refugees who do not have identification cards (known as non-IDs)
have even fewer rights and less freedom of movement

POVERTY
• 2/3 of Palestine refugees are poor, subsisting on less than $6 per day
• 6.6% of these subsisting on less than $2.17 per day
• The majority of those living in poverty and extreme poverty reside
in camps in South Lebanon     UNRWA LEBANON

The events 28 years later by a survivor of the Massacre: The untreated psychic wounds are still open. Accountability, justice and basic civil rights for the survivors are still denied.

Scores of horror testimonies have been shared over the past nearly three decades by survivors of the September 1982 Sabra- Shatila massacre. More come to light only through circumstantial evidence because would be affiants perished during the slaughter. Other eyewitness are just beginning to emerge from deep trauma or self imposed silence Munir’s Story: 28 years after the Massacre at Sabra-Shatila

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign as mission of his life. He blogs at Civil Rights.

Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director of the Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of “The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon” and is doing research in Lebanon for his next book.

Lamb has been a Professor of International Law at Northwestern College of Law in Oregon. He earned his Law Degree at Boston University and his LLM, M.Phil, and PhD degrees at the London School of Economics.

As a Middle East expert and commentator, Dr. Lamb has appeared on Press TV, Al-Manar and several other media outlets. His articles and analyses have been published by Counter Punch, Veterans Today, Intifada Palestine, Electronic Intifada, Opinion Maker, Dissident Voice, Daily Star and Al Ahram.

Dr Lamb is a frequent contributor to Opinion-Maker.org

Palestinians Refugees on the Move

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