Adel Makki handed out sweets on the streets of Beirut, Lebanon, when he heard the news of the death of Ariel Sharon. “I was relieved when I found out that Sharon was dead,” Makki, 19, told AFP. “I think the years he spent in a coma were punishment from God for the crimes he committed.”
The Palestinians, and many others, continue to blame Sharon for a massacre of hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, between September 16 and 18 1982, in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, even though the slaughter was carried out by a Lebanese Christian militia.
Sharon, who was Israel’s defense minister at the time, was forced to resign after a commission of inquiry found him “indirectly responsible” for the massacres. He was in charge, following the invasion of Lebanon by the IDF, and so the massacre was his responsibility.
There were no subtlties or nuances in ten-year-old Ahmad Khodr al-Gosh’s mind when he told AFP on Saturday: “I took a piece of candy because the assassin is dead. He killed hundreds of women and children. We are now relieved.”
Until the next car blows up down the block, of course.
The Shatila refugee camp came to life when the news broke, AFP reported. People poured out to celebrate the passing of Sharon.
“You want to know how I feel? I want to sing and play music, that is how,” said Umm Ali, a 65-year-old woman clad in black whose brother died in the massacre.
“I would have liked so much to stab him to death. He would have suffered more,” she added.
Shopkeeper Mirvat al-told AFP she was confident that Sharon is going to meet divine justice. “Of course I am happy that he is dead,” she said. “I would have liked to see him go on trial before the entire world for his crimes but there is divine justice and he cannot escape that.”
Then she commented: “The tribunal of God is more severe than any court down here.”
Not exactly, at least not according to Jewish tradition, which believes that the heavenly court takes into accounts all the actions of a person, sins and merits. That’s why on occasion it takes longer for a person to be punished.
Not a single Palestinian interviewed by AFP, nor the Ma’an news agency where I found this account made any mention of the fact that Sabra and Shatila came at the end of a long history of bloody massacres, none of which, at any point, were committed by any Israeli person.
The Sabra and Shatila killers were a gang recruited by Elie Hobeika, then Lebanon’s military intelligence chief, and the order for the massacre was given directly by Hobeika himself.
Hobeika’s family and his fiancée had been murdered by Palestinian militiamen at the Damour massacre of 1976, which came in response to an earlier massacre of Palestinians by the Christian militia.
Hobeika served many years in the Lebanese Parliament and as government minister. No one ever dreamed of accusing him of killing anyone.
But the 1983 Kahan Commission, appointed by Israel to investigate the final massacre in that string, found that Sharon had failed to take steps to stop it, and so he bore personal responsibility “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge.”
The commissioned demanded his head and got it. Sharon resigned.
It was stunning to discover the similarities between Sharon’s victims on the Jewish side and those considering themselves his victims in Palestinian refugee camps.
MK Orit Strock (Jewish Home) praised God on her Facebook page for the fact that “Sharon was taken from public life before succeeding in wreaking the same disaster on residents of Judea and Samaria as he did on settlers in Gush Katif and the Gaza border communities.”