Unedited version of Aamer’s column for Scottish Sun on Sunday 19th January 2014
ARIEL SHARON THE ‘BULLDOZER’
This week Tony Blair eulogised General Ariel Sharon in his death as a ‘peacemaker’ with little mention of how Sharon came to be ‘affectionately’ known as the ‘Bulldozer’.
The truth is horrific and sickening so stop reading now if you don’t want to know. Of course the war crimes of Ariel Sharon are far too many to be printed here, but ‘Sabra and Chatilla’ summarises his life’s work for me.
In June 1982 , Israel’s Defence Minister Sharon led the invasion of Lebanon to crush the PLO which had used it since the seventies as a base to launch attacks on Israel. Sharon’s siege of Beirut is estimated to have killed up to 30,000 civilians until a ceasefire was brokered by France, Italy and the US.
9000 PLO fighters agreed to permanent exile on the condition that the security of their families in Beirut’s refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla, home to thousands of Palestinians would be guaranteed by the international community.
But on the 11th September once the Multinational force had evacuated the Palestinian fighters they broke their ‘promise’ leaving the civilian inhabitants of the camps at the mercy of Israel.
On 15th September Sharon and his Chief of Army staff met with their allies 1,500 Lebanese ‘Christian’ Phalangist Fascist militia ordering them into the camps. Israeli Paratroop units were ordered to ‘facilitate’ their entry.
“At 5.30am Israeli planes made low level flights over the camps.” By the 16th September “Israeli troops and armour completely surrounded Sabra and Chatilla and were 50 yards at the nearest point and 300 yards at the furthest point from the camps”. Sharon had his troops surround and seal the camps so there was no means of escape.
At 6pm the Phalange entered the camps in Israeli armoured vehicles and two nights the sky was lit up by Israeli Military flares as they enforced an ‘indefinite curfew’.
Only 2 weeks earlier an Israeli Defence Force newspaper had warned that the Phalangists had said the key question for them was ‘how to begin, by raping or killing?” Now under the gaze of Sharon they massacred up to 3500 defenceless women, children and old people with not one casualty themselves.
The next morning Israel’s Chief of Army Staff congratulated the Phalangists on ‘their smooth operation’. Whilst Sharon and his generals were to later claim that they had no idea of the atrocities being committed according to the Israeli and UN inquiries-
“Israelis established observation posts on top of multi-storey buildings…from these posts, the naked eye has a clear view of several sections of the camps, including those parts of Chatila where piles of bodies were found, in addition Israeli observers were reported to have high power binoculars available to them.”
Some of Israel’s own soldiers who witnessed the massacre unfold tried to complain to senior officers but were told ‘not to worry’ and ‘failed. The UN commission found that the Israeli Defence Force “exercised actual control and authority over the Phalange Militiamen, aiding and abetting the perpetration of the massacre, as well failing to apprehend those responsible.”
The stench of death quickly spread panic throughout the camp as those seeking to escape were turned back at Israeli gunpoint. By nightfall 2000 had fled to the local hospital seeking refuge, but the medical staff were themselves being systematically hunted, abducted, raped and murdered.
“At 2pm a Palestinian nurse Intisar Ismail, aged 19, was found in one of the Akka shelters, she had been repeatedly raped and murdered…One nurse was raped ten times then killed….three Palestinian doctors and one Egyptian doctor emerged from a hospital carrying a white flag in an effort to stop the shooting, a hand grenade was thrown at them killing all three.”
Sharon only ordered the Phalange to stop on the 18th September when independent observers began to reveal to the world what they had found.
‘Bodies severely mutilated, young boys castrated, scalped or with Christian crosses carved into their bodies’; ‘dead women raped, stripped lined up in alley ways’; ‘children with their throats slit’; ‘pregnant women chopped open’ and ‘countless babies and toddlers stabbed or ripped apart and thrown into garbage piles’; ‘Victims tied up with rope and subjected to torture before being executed’.
Sharon ordered Israel’s ‘bulldozers’ to be provided to the Phalange so that ‘buildings could be bulldozed to bury bodies in the rubble’. In December 1982 after its own investigation the United Nations General Assembly condemned Israel’s role in facilitating the massacre as an ‘Act of Genocide’. Under the Geneva Convention the camp’s residents had every right to be protected by Israel the occupying force.
Israel’s own inquiry led by its Chief Justice Kahan found that Sharon ‘bore personal responsibility’ for allowing the massacre to take place. No one has ever been brought to justice for these crimes and although Sharon was sacked he would return several years later as Prime Minister.
Sharon crushed the PLO but his real legacy was the creation of a ‘Frankenstein’ never seen before. He built a nation over the dead bodies of the Palestinian people, an 18 year illegal occupation of Lebanon gave birth to Hezbollah, whilst Sharon’s entombing Gaza in a concrete wall spawned a never ending cycle of suicide bombings and mayhem by Hamas.
Some ‘Peacemaker’ but then I suppose it was one butcher praising another!
Channels 4 Benefit’s street has come in for a great deal of criticism for its voyeurism and attack on the poor. But for me there was one community that shone this week, the Roma community.
Proud young men who worked 17 hour shifts, often going without food because they had no choice but to provide for their families. As one man said ‘no parent can sit and watch their child is crying through hunger.’
So the next time you see them rummaging through rubbish, standing on street corners, or living 14 to a house, just ask why we are so full of suspicion or jealousy?
For the Roma our streets turned out not to be paved with gold. Even when they manage to get a job, they are treated as slaves.
Given half a chance they have all the qualities needed to make a great contribution to our society, much more than the morons full of drugs and booze who racially abused them on on James Turner Street.