Remembering Lebanon - Mémoire du Liban

9/16/2005

EACH OF YOU IS AN AVENGER

EACH OF YOU IS AN AVENGER
Account of a Lebanese Forces member who took part in S&S massacre

(Original Source: The German weekly, Der Spiegel, issue # 7, February 14, 1983 - The article was entitled 'Each Of You Is An Avenger'. Translated from Amnon Kapliouk: Enqette sur un massacre: From the election of Bashir Gemayel, to his assassination, to Sabra & Shatila massacres, - Arabic version with additions. - Translated & published by: Al-Dar Al-Taqdimiyah, Beirut, September 1984)

We met in Wadi Shahrur, Southeast of Beirut. It was Wednesday, the 15th of September, after our leader Bashir Gemayel was assassinated. We were approximately 300 men from East Beirut, South Lebanon and the Akkar mountains in the north. We were all members of the Kataeb party. We were wearing the Kataeb uniform, and so were those who belonged, like myself, to the Tiger Militia of ex-President Camille Chamoun.

Kataeb officers summoned us and brought us to the meeting place. They told us that they needed us for a 'special mission.' Of what they said to us: ‘You came here by your own will to avenge the horrible murder of Bashir Gemayel. You are God’s agents, each of you is an avenger!'

This speech moved me. I had lost two of my siblings when the Palestinians attacked Damour in 1976. And from the conversations I had with my comrades, It became clear to me that most of them also had lost relatives.

A dozen Israelis in green uniforms without indication of rank came along. They had maps with them and spoke Arabic well, except that like all Jews, they pronounced the hard 'h' as 'kh.'

It had to do the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila. We had to study the maps for long hours. This was wasted time as it was clear to us what we were to do and we were looking forward to it.

Our officers told us that we had a noble mission to accomplish - that is liberating Lebanon of its last remaining enemies. We had to mop up the two camps and capture all men capable of fighting. We felt very proud of this.

On the noon of the next day (Thursday), our group met again. We had to take an oath never to divulge anything about our action. At about 10 p.m., we climbed into an American army truck that the Israelis had put at our disposal. We parked the vehicle near the airport rond point. There, right next to the Israeli posts, several such trucks were already parked. These trucks were later used to transport the Palestinian prisoners.

Some Israelis in kataeb uniforms were with the party (with us). Our officers had told us that "the Israeli friends who will accompany you are also volunteers, they haven’t said anything to their army about their involvement with us…they will make your work easier."

They directed us not to make use of our firearms as much as possible, for everything must proceed noiselessly. They said that they expect us back in 3 hours.

There was a Kataebi officer (liaison officer) at the entrance of the camp securing the communications with the Israelis. We were led afterwards by a masked man to a slope near the deserted Kuweiti embassy.

“Jump!” ordered a voice behind me. Next to the wall, which we had jumped over, was a small house with a tin roof. We forcibly opened the door. Inside it there were an old man and women, and 2 boys, aged 15 and 16. They were listening to the radio. We pointed our machine guns at them and searched the place for weapons.

One of the boys seemed insolent; he yelled at us: “Dogs of the Jews.”

He thought he was courageous, the lowlife, so we struck him in his heart with the bayonet (spear of the gun). This happened quickly and without noise, as we’d been ordered, but we couldn’t prevent the horrific screams of the old couple and the remaining guy, despite the fact that we didn’t harm them. Two of our comrades led them out towards the trucks. I don’t know if they’ve reached there…

We saw other comrades. They had followed the instructions & done their work noiselessly without shooting but with the use of bayonets & knives. Bloody corpses were lying in the alleys…

The terrified women and the children who were crying out of help obstructed our work as their screams alarmed the camp residents.

Suddenly, we heard shots, as there were armed Palestinians at the northern section of Shatila camp. They were shooting at us, with Bazoukas too. One of my comrades lost his right arm, and we had to retreat. The idea of accomplishing the mission in 3 hours became unfeasible.

Now I saw once again the Israeli advisors who had been at our secret meeting. One of them had a walkie-talkie; he signaled us to move back to areas of the camp entrance. Few minutes later, the Israelis started shelling the camp. We moved forward again (into the camp). The Israelis helped us with flares so that we can distinguish between the enemy and the friend.

There were shocking scenes that showed what the Palestinians were capable of. A few armed men, including women, had hid in a small alley, in the northern section of the camp, behind some donkeys. Unfortunately, we had to shoot down these poor animals to finish off the Palestinians behind them. It got to me when the animals cried out in pain. It was gruesome.

And to believe what kind of people are these Palestinians: a wounded comrade, looking for bandages, entered a house full of women and children. The Palestinians screamed in his face and threw their gas stoves on the ground and burnt the house in order to prevent him from finding bandages.

We will send those hard-hearted rabble to hell.

At about 4 (AM) my squad went back towards the trucks. Only one truck has been used…(it was understood from this that there had been no prisoners, but that the prisoners were killed).

We went to Haddath to spend the night, at dawn (when there was morning light – in Ralph’s translation); we went back into the camp. We went past bodies, stumbled over bodies, shot and stabbed all eyewitnesses. Killing was very easy once you have done it before.

Now came the first Israeli army bulldozers. One of the Kataeb officers ordered: "Plow everything under the ground. Don't leave any witnesses alive. Things must be done very quickly."

He could stay whatever he wanted. Didn’t he see the magnitude of the task?

Despite our efforts the camp was still crowded with people. We could hear shooting from all directions. The people there were fending for themselves. They ran about and caused awful confusion. The Order to "plow them under" demanded too much.

We have avenged the deaths of our civil war victims. But Saturday night, it became clear that our “beautiful” plan had failed. Thousands of Palestinians had escaped us. Far too many Palestinian enemies are still alive. Everywhere now people are talking about a massacre; and feeling sorry for the Palestinians, who had forced us to do this!

Who appreciates the hardships that we took upon ourselves for a just cause? Just imagine this: I fought once for twenty-four hours in Shatila camp without food or drink!!

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