With all the uproar over the calls to indict Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for war crimes, it is ironic that it is the Hamas weekly newspaper that recently called for the indictment of the “real culprits” in the Sabra and Shatila massacres.
An editorial in al-Risalah (The Mission), the Hamas paper in Gaza, names Phalange security chief Eli Hobeika and his Syrian masters as the ones who ought to be indicted for the massacre. (See Annex for English translation of the article).
It must be remembered that 20,000 Moslem Brotherhood militants and their families were slaughtered in Hama in February 1982 by the Syrian regime, but have never been the subject of any documentary films nor even of serious protest by the enlightened world. As is pointed out in the Hamas journal: “A regime that has lost its sensitivity for the lives of its own people, which have murdered tens of thousands in Hama, is incapable of finding any fault in Hobeika for murdering two thousand Palestinians.”
The Sabra and Shatila massacre occurred after a Syrian agent, Habib Shartouni, a member of the National Socialist Syrian Party, planted a bomb in the Phalange party headquarters, resulting in the death of Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel along with 40 Phalange members (14 September 1982). This same Shartouni was sentenced to death, but was released by his Syrian masters after serving only six years in a Lebanese prison.
Eli Hobeika, on the other hand, who directly commanded the slaughter of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila, not only went un-tried in Lebanon under Syrian rule, but today is the only Phalange leader who escaped assassination arrest or deportation. He as even held many high-ranking positions, and served three times as a minister in various Lebanese governments.
The Syrians took care to wipe out—physically or politically—every Lebanese leader who posed a threat to their rule. In addition, they also aided in the expulsion of the international force that came to enforce the peace in a country torn apart by civil war, and by the murder of hundreds of American and French soldiers in Hizballah suicide attacks in October 1983.
In 1998, Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass boasted to the Gulf al-Bayan newspaper that he was the one who gave the green light to the “resistance” to murder marines and French soldiers, but that he prevented attacks on the Italian soldiers of the multi-national force “because he was in love with the Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida.” At the time, not a single foreign ministry nor self-righteous organization protested at this revelation. Certainly no one sought to bring him to trial in an international court.
Several Paris city councilmen dared to remind their distinguished guest, President Bashar Assad, during his visit to France last week, of the murder of the French ambassador to Lebanon in 1981, but this did not prevent their government from receiving him with pomp and ceremony.
In recent days, Iran’s role in the 1996 bombing of the American soldiers’ barracks in Dharan Saudi Arabia has finally been clarified. It took five years for the American prosecutor to pry, almost by force, the information out of the hands of the Saudi authorities and decide to make it public, apparently due to the stubbornness of FBI Director Freeh, who saw this affair as a personal challenge. Yet, in the indictment there is still no finger-pointing towards the Iranian leadership itself, and it is not at all certain that the U.S. government will decide to take the serious steps required by the exposure of the Iranian involvement in the murder of American soldiers.
These days, Yasser Arafat, another great artist in the use of terrorism, is deceiving world leaders, apparently even the Bush administration itself, and is attempting to cover for the activities of Hamas’ perpetrators of suicide-attacks and their political leadership. These are the same people who received from him the green light to act, similar to the permission given at the time by Mustafa Tlass to the Hizballah suicide-bombers in Lebanon.
Israel must put on the international agenda, with renewed vigor, the role played by Syria, Iran and the PLO in the trampling of human rights and the running amok of terrorism that has plagued our region for the past 35 years and threatens to drown us again in a wave of violence and regional conflict.
It is incumbent on the government of Israel to make a supreme information effort on this issue, to forcefully insist on the PA arresting and trying all Hamas and Fatah perpetrators and planners of terrorism, and to demand from the international community to prevent victory of terrorism to prevail in the international arena.
See AFP from Rome, January 1, 1998.