The steadfastness and braveness of Sabra and Shatila are in all of our hearts. As we speak, we commemorate the merciless injustice inflicted on the Palestinians within the bloodbath of 1982, realizing that that is simply one of many steady assaults on Palestinians since 1948. We resolve to proceed to be with you all in your troublesome journey in solidarity, hope and love, realizing that someday, the liberty and peace stolen from the Palestinian individuals for all these years shall be gained again by your wrestle. We commemorate with tears, however pledge our dedication to this wrestle with all our power and lives. We all know that the day will come when our youngsters’s laughter would be the reward of years of sacrifice and endurance.
In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. It bombed Lebanon by land, air and sea, and laid siege to Beirut. Israel killed and wounded 1000’s of harmless individuals and made a minimum of 100,000 homeless inside just a few weeks. Beirut metropolis was denied electrical energy, medication, meals and water.
I resigned from my job at a hospital in London to assist the victims in Lebanon. At the moment, my sympathies have been with Israel, and I had not identified that Palestinians existed. However I may not stand by and watch the wounding and killings of girls, youngsters and unarmed civilians – or watch them being made homeless because the bombs constantly fell on Lebanon.
I arrived in Beirut in August 1982, and was seconded to Gaza Hospital in Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. It was considered one of 9 hospitals and 13 clinics of the Palestine Crimson Crescent Society and the one one which was not flattened by the bombs.
The individuals of Sabra and Shatila instructed me about their struggling ever since they have been pushed out of Palestine to turn into refugees in 1948. Most of the residents of Sabra and Shatila have been third and fourth-time refugees being pushed from camp to camp when their households have been killed and houses destroyed by Israeli planes. That was the primary time I heard about their horrible struggling. That was additionally the primary time I met Palestinians.
After resisting the continual bombardment for ten weeks, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) evacuated in change for peace. The US promised that it could shield the 300,000 Palestinian refugees left behind in Lebanon. They have been inspired to return from the shelters to the refugee camps to rebuild their houses and lives. However this didn’t occur.
Three weeks later, on 15 September, 1982, Israeli tanks have been allowed to overrun Beirut. A big quantity surrounded and sealed Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in order that nobody may go away nor enter the camp.
Sniping began as soon as the camp was sealed. Initially, the wounded and useless introduced into the hospital have been primarily ladies gathering water and meals for his or her households. By the afternoon of the subsequent day, males, ladies, youngsters and infants have been shot of their houses. Many have been introduced in useless and stuffed the mortuary.
Greater than 2,000 frightened individuals fled into our hospital with tales that the Haddads, Kataebs and Israelis have been killing defenceless households within the camp. They feared for his or her lives.
They may not escape, and nobody protected them.
The hospital ran out of blood, remedy and meals. Our medical and surgical workforce labored continuous. I wished the nurses to provide the final packet of blood to a wounded mom, however she pleaded for it to be given to her baby, and she or he died shortly afterwards.
At night time, the skies of Sabra and Shatila have been lit with Israeli army flares. We heard explosions and machine gun noises all through, and the wounded continued to be introduced into Gaza Hospital.
It was particularly painful to function on a bit boy who was shot together with 27 members of his household. Because the our bodies fell on him, he handed out and was mistaken for useless by the murderers. When he awoke, he was in nice ache. Years later, he instructed of how he heard ladies being rounded up and raped. His bodily wounds could have healed, however his emotional scars are nonetheless with him at this time. It took my American colleagues 4 years to get him out of dwelling in the home the place his household was murdered. He was not the one baby who suffered on this manner.
At daybreak on 18 September, 1982, troopers with machine weapons pressured the complete worldwide medical volunteer workforce out of the hospital.
After we have been marched into Rue Sabra, we noticed teams of outdated males, ladies and youngsters rounded up by militia. A frightened, determined younger mom tried to provide me her child, however was pressured to take it again. She begged them to spare her child. They have been all subsequently executed, together with the mom and child.
There have been useless our bodies piled up within the camp alleys and bulldozers destroying camp houses. We had struggled for 72 hours continuous with out meals and sleep to save lots of dozens of lives. However throughout the similar 72 hours, a minimum of 3,000 have been killed.
I used to be 33 years outdated then. I grew up a Zionist Christian and by no means knew Palestinians existed till I stepped foot in Sabra and Shatila. I knew then that it was my human accountability by no means to stroll away from this horrendous injustice. I additionally realised that I have to converse up on behalf of the victims. The useless couldn’t converse up, and the survivors needed my voice.
After testifying to 5 Commissions of Inquiry on Sabra and Shatila, together with travelling to Israel with Ellen Siegel to provide proof to the Israeli Kahan Fee of Inquiry into the conduct of the Israeli Military in Sabra and Shatila, I returned to the UK. The Palestinians in Lebanon continued to be destitute, homeless and hungry. Justice appeared to not be in sight. The scenario was dire for them, and certainly, they continued to undergo and turn into extra determined. Kids have been born and grew up within the lengthy, darkish shadow of the bloodbath, and there was no hope of returning to Palestine. May we make their lives just a bit bit simpler?
Medical Support for Palestinians (MAP) was based within the aftermath of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, underneath these circumstances. We wished to assist the Palestinians in any small manner that we may. The founders of MAP fashioned the organisation in order that the horrors of the bloodbath might be changed into a bridge – a optimistic channel of friendship and solidarity between individuals within the UK and the Palestinians – not solely in Lebanon, but additionally within the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and within the diaspora.
Since then, MAP has not solely labored with the Palestinians in Lebanon, but additionally in Gaza and the West Financial institution. The existence of MAP can also be our method to allow them to know we are going to by no means forsake or neglect them. What MAP is doing is minuscule, a drop within the ocean, however we’re a part of the tide shifting in direction of justice for the Palestinians.
As for me, I depend myself privileged and honoured to have the ability to journey alongside the Palestinians, to be accepted as their household. Whether or not in Shatila, in Gaza, onboard the Freedom Flotilla Al-Awda to Gaza, in Israeli jail or being deported, I would like my life to be an appropriate tribute to the Palestinians. They welcomed me into their damaged lives and houses and made me considered one of their very own, providing me Arabic espresso within the midst of the rubble they name house. For this, I’ll thank God day by day of my life, till demise do us half.
The views expressed on this article belong to the writer and don’t essentially mirror the editorial coverage of Center East Monitor.