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Refugee Voices

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Anniversary of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila Massacre, Voices of the Survivors

Excerpts from the Complaint Against Ariel Sharon, lodged in Belgium, 18 June 2001

On 15-16 September 1982, right-wing Lebanese allies of Israel's occupation forces headed by then Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon, entered the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila under the eyes of Israeli military forces and slaughtered several thousand Palestinian refugees.

Over the past two decades, the massacre of Sabra and Shatila has come to symbolize Palestinian suffering rooted in mass forced displacement, military occupation, the demand for investigation and remedy of gross human rights violations, and the denial of the right to self-determination and the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties. The following recollections are from the war crimes case against Ariel Sharon that began in 2001. For more information about the history of the case visit the Indict Sharon website (

Samiha Abbas Hijazi
Madame Abbas Hijazi lost her daughter, her son-in-law, her daughter’s godmother and
other loved ones.

On Thursday, there was shelling when the Israelis came, then it got worse so we went down into the shelter. (…) We learned on Friday that there had been a massacre. I went to my neighbours’ house. I saw our neighbour Mustapha Al Habarat; he was injured and lying in a bath of his own blood. His wife and children were dead. We took him to the Gaza hospital and then we fled. When things had calmed down, I came back and searched for my daughter and my husband for four days. I spent four days looking for them through all the dead bodies. I found Zeinab dead, her face burnt. Her husband had been cut in two and had no head. I took them and buried them.

Wadha Hassan as-Sabeq
Mrs as-Sabeq lost two sons (aged 16 and 19), a brother and about 15 other relatives.
We were at home on Friday 17 September; the neighbours came and they started to say: ‘‘Israel has come in, go to the Israelis, they are taking papers and stamping them.’’ We went out to surrender ourselves to the Israelis. When we got there, the tanks and the Israeli soldiers were there, but we were surprised to see that they had Lebanese forces with them. They took the men and left us women and children together. When they took the children and all the men from me, they said to us, “Go to the Sports Centre,” and they took us there. They left us there until 7pm, then they told us, “Go to Fakhani and don’t go back to your house,” then they started firing shells and bullets at us. On one side there were some men who had been arrested; they took them and we have never found out what happened to them. To this day we know nothing about what happened to them; they just disappeared.

Nadima Yousef Said Nasser
Mrs Said Nasser lost her husband, her father-in-law, three of her husband’s nephews and
five other relatives.
It was Thursday. Suddenly the street was deserted. My mother went to the neighbours’ house, and the shelling started. About 10 families were gathered at the neighbours’ house. A little while later, a woman came in from the Irsan quarter. She shouted, “They’ve killed Hassan’s wife!” She was carrying her children and shouting that it was a massacre.

I picked up one of my twin daughters, who was a year old, went to my husband and said, “They say that there’s a massacre.” He replied, “Don’t be silly.” I took one of my daughters and gave him the other one, but the shelling got stronger and we went back to the neighbours´ shelter. The shelter was full of women, men and children; a woman from Tel Al Zaater was crying, saying, “This is what happened at Tel Al Zaater.”

A little later, I went out of the shelter, and I saw armed men who were putting the men against the walls. I saw a neighbour; they tore open her stomach. Some woman came out of the house opposite and started waving her scarf around, saying, “We must give ourselves up.” Suddenly I heard my sister shouting, “They’ve cut his throat!” I thought that my parents had been killed. I rushed to see them, carrying my daughter.

They killed my sister’s husband in front of me. I went up, I saw them shooting at the men. They killed them all. I fled. My other daughter stayed with her father. The armed men left, taking with them the men from the shelter. My husband was among them. On entering the camp a Lebanese woman came; she had seen my husband holding my daughter. She had seen how my husband had been killed by a Phalangist: with the blow of an axe to his head.

My daughter was covered in blood. The man gave her to the Lebanese woman, who came back to the camp and gave her to some relatives of mine. I fled to Gaza hospital. When they entered the hospital, I escaped once again.

The full complaint is available at,