Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
September 17th, 2004
Twenty-two years ago, from September 16th-18th, 1982, the people of Palestine and the world were assaulted by a horrendous crime—the bloody massacres at Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon.
Sabra and Shatilla, home to thousands of Palestinian refugees forced from Palestine in 1948 during the Zionist occupation of their homes and lands, were encircled and sealed off as part of the Zionist assault upon, and
occupation of, Beirut. We raise our voices now in honor of our martyrs who died struggling for our freedom at Sabra and Shatilla camps, and in continued dedication to justice and liberation.
Zionist forces, under the command of Ariel Sharon, then defense minister and today the prime minister of the Zionist state, sealed off the camps, by then largely empty of resistance fighters and home mostly to Palestinian and Lebanese women and children. At that point, Sharon ordered the entry of the Lebanese Forces, a right-wing Phalangist militia with close ties to the Zionist occupiers, and the South Lebanon Army, the proxy army of the Zionist entity in Lebanon, into Sabra and Shatilla. For the two days that followed, aided by night flares and other support from the Zionist army surrounding the camps, these militias tortured, raped, and murdered thousands of Palestinian refugees, with the full knowledge and support of the Zionist invaders.
The blood of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatilla remains on the hands of Ariel Sharon as he continues his brutal slaughter of Palestinians to this day.
The roots of the massacre in Sabra and Shatilla trace back to 1948 and the dispossession and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the Zionist colonization and occupation of our land. Palestinians were forced into refugee camps throughout the Arab homeland, denied their rights and identity, and targeted for extermination as a nation.
Since 1948, Palestinians have been assaulted everywhere they live, their rights and lives under constant and vicious attack; the war crimes and massacres at Sabra and Shatilla stand as a prime and terrible example. The massacres, however, did not end on September 18th, 1982; they have never stopped and even continue today. And the crimes will continue until true justice and liberation is achieved for all Palestinian refugees—the right to return to their original homes and lands, and the rights of liberation, sovereignty, and self-determination.
The only protection for Palestinian refugees is the exercise of their fundamental right to return. The murdered thousands at Sabra and Shatilla camps died struggling for that right, and it is a right that is just as vital and fundamental for Palestinians today.
Yes, the blood and crimes of Sabra and Shatilla are the crimes of Ariel Sharon; yet they are more than the crimes of one individual. They are the crimes of Zionism, the crimes of the Zionist entity, and the crimes of the Zionist project as a whole—a project based upon the expulsion and extermination of the Palestinian people. So just as Ariel Sharon is a war criminal, so too are Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir, Menachem Begin, Golda Meir, and every other person committed to that racist project of extermination and oppression. The very existence of the Zionist entity in Palestine is a war crime; it is based upon the continuing slaughter and dispossession of Palestinians, the continuing expropriation and exploitation of their resources, and the continuing colonization of their land.
Furthermore, the crimes of Zionism, as a colonial-settler project, are part and parcel of the crimes of United States imperialism in the Arab homeland and around the world. As the Zionists and their proxy militiamen ravaged Sabra and Shatilla, the U.S. and its proxy forces ravaged Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Angola, Mozambique, Cambodia, and many other nations—as part of the same drive for power,
control, and resources.
The Zionist invasion of Lebanon met with full U.S. approval and support; today, the Zionist entity receives billions of dollars annually from the U.S. government, and continues its onslaught upon the Palestinian people at the behest of U.S. imperialism. At the same time, the U.S. occupies, oppresses, and terrorizes the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Colombia, the Philippines, and numerous others in the world. The brutality and crimes of Zionist colonialism and U.S. imperialism cannot and should not be separated from one another—nor can the struggles against those crimes.
We are struggling for justice and liberation against the monumental criminality of the Zionist colonial project, witnessed at Sabra and Shatilla and at Deir Yassin; at Safsaf, Lydda, Tantura, and Kufr Qasem; at Qibya, Qana, Jenin, Nablus, Rafah, and throughout occupied Palestine. We are dedicated to ensuring that the crimes of Sabra and Shatilla, and the crimes of 1948, and all those before, after, and in between, will no longer ravage our people and our land; and that all Palestinian refugees must have their full, unconditional and non-negotiable right to return to their original homes and lands.
In order for us to achieve justice, victory, liberation, and return, it is imperative that national unity among the Palestinian people, its leadership, and its institutions be developed and fostered. We need a unified national leadership, embracing all Palestinian National and Islamic forces, organizations, and institutions; and reviving the structure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—inside and outside of Palestine—on a democratic basis involving representation for all Palestinians.
We look back in memory and honor. And we look forward with steadfastness, certainty, and the commitment to resist Zionist crimes, and to struggle for the return of all of our refugees and for the liberation of our land.