World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Israel: Ariel Sharon’s Troubling Legacy

Evaded Prosecution Over Sabra and Shatilla Massacres

January 11, 2014

(Jerusalem) – Ariel Sharon died without facing justice for his role in the massacres of hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians by Lebanese militias in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982. The killings constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sharon also escaped accountability for other alleged abuses, such as his role expanding settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, prosecutable as a war crime. Sharon ordered the removal of all Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and from four West Bank settlements in 2005, but the overall number of settlers in occupied territory increased significantly during his term as prime minister.

“It’s a shame that Sharon has gone to his grave without facing justice for his role in Sabra and Shatilla and other abuses,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “His passing is another grim reminder that years of virtual impunity for rights abuses have done nothing to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace any closer.”

Sharon, as Israel’s defense minister in 1982, had overall responsibility for the Israel Defense Forces, which controlled the area of the Sabra and Shatilla camps. An Israeli commission of inquiry found that he bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre and that he decided Phalangist militias “should be sent in” to the camps from September 16 to 18, despite the risk that they would massacre the civilian population there. The militias killed between 700 and 800 people, according to Israeli military intelligence estimates; other estimates were much higher. The dead included infants, children, pregnant women, and the elderly, some of whose bodies were found to have been mutilated.

In February 1983, the Kahan Commission, Israel’s official commission of inquiry investigating the events, found that the “serious consideration… that the Phalangists were liable to commit atrocities… did not concern [Sharon] in the least.” Sharon’s “disregard of the danger of a massacre” was “impossible to justify,” the commission found, and recommended his dismissal as defense minister. He remained in the Israeli cabinet as a minister without portfolio and later became prime minister in 2001, serving until his stroke in January 2006.

Israeli justice authorities never conducted a criminal investigation to determine whether Sharon and other Israeli military officials bore criminal responsibility. In 2001, survivors brought a case in Belgium requesting that Sharon be prosecuted under Belgium’s “universal jurisdiction” law. Political pressure led Belgium’s parliament to amend the law in April 2003, and to repeal it altogether in August, leading Belgium’s highest court to drop the case against Sharon that September.

Sharon long promoted establishing unlawful Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. In 2005 he ordered Israel’s withdrawal of nearly 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of four West Bank settlements, but during his term as prime minister, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, increased from roughly 388,000 to 461,000. The transfer by an occupying power of its civilians into an occupied territory is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, and a potential war crime.

A West Bank separation barrier that he approved in 2002 was largely built inside the West Bank, contrary to international humanitarian law, encompassing many settlements on the Israeli side. Since 2003, the Israeli military has subjected thousands of Palestinians who live in areas of the West Bank between the barrier and the 1967 armistice line (the “Green Line”) to severe, discriminatory restrictions on their freedom of movement, with devastating economic and social consequences.

During Sharon’s term as prime minister, Israeli forces killed more than 1,430 Palestinian civilians, while Palestinians killed 640 Israeli civilians, according to data collected by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Israeli forces also unlawfully demolished hundreds of homes in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

“For the thousands of victims of abuses, Sharon’s passing without facing justice magnifies their tragedy,” Whitson said.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On How Obama’s Supreme Court Choice Says Everything (Bad) About His Presidency

Nothing has epitomised the presidency of Barack Obama quite like his Supreme Court nominees. Time and again, Republican presidents will blithely nominate right wing ideological extremists (Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas) who only sometimes misfire and turn out to be liberals in disguise (David Souter). Yet Obama has consistently skipped over the judicially qualified liberals and gone for a succession of centrists... More>>

ALSO:

Turkey: UN Secretary-General On The Terrorist Bombing In Ankara

The Secretary-General condemns the terrorist attack in Ankara earlier today. According to the latest reports, the explosion in the Kizilay district killed and wounded dozens of people. More>>

ALSO:

Five Years On: Fukushima And New Zealand

Science Media Centre: It was the worst nuclear event since Chernobyl. In the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, a crippled Japanese nuclear powerplant went into meltdown, and the world watched as emergency workers scrambled to shut down and contain the reactors. More>>

ALSO:

UNICEF: 1 In 3 Syrian Children Has Grown Up Knowing Only Crisis

An estimated 3.7 million Syrian children – 1 in 3 of all Syrian children - have been born since the conflict began five years ago, their lives shaped by violence, fear and displacement, according to a UNICEF report. This figure includes more than 151,000 children born as refugees since 2011. More>>

ALSO:

Franklin Lamb: Syria’s Truce Bodes Well For Salvaging Our Cultural Heritage

The tentative cessation of hostilities in Syria, which came into effect on 2/28/2016, brokered by Washington and Moscow, is only in its second week... It is well documented that there have been daily incidents of artillery shelling, airstrikes and clashes. Yet, for the nearly 12 million displaced civilians, half of Syria’s population, it’s a much welcomed respite. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Rubio’s Last Stand (And Sleater-Kinney)

Well, it certainly was entertaining to watch Rubio succeed in getting under Donald Trump’s skin the other day, in the last debate before tomorrow’s Super Tuesday multi-state sweepstakes... The real killer for Rubio was that the most recent poll from Florida which shows him losing his home state to Trump by a huge margin in the primary due on March 15. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news