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SHARON, "THE ACCUSED" - Complete Transcript

"I think there is no doubt in my mind that he (Sharon)
is indictable (as a war criminal) for the kind of
knowledge that he either had, or should have had."
Professor Richard Falk, Princeton University

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 6/23: Ariel Sharon has pressured British Prime Minister Tony Blair to reverse an earlier decision and meet with him as he travels to the USA tomorrow. Meanwhile, the sting of the BBC TV program "The Accused", seems significant. One of the on-camera accusers, Richard Falk, Professor of International Relations at Princeton University, who is Jewish, has been forced to ask for police protection. Professor Falk, we should mention, was one of the publisher of MER's professors when Mark Bruzonsky got his degree in international relations from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. In 1984 in a personal article published in the Los Angeles Times, Bruzonsky, wrote about Professor Falk and how long ago before others were doing so Falk was thoughtfully and courageously pointing out the similarities between the Apartheid system in South Africa and Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.


TRANSCRIPT OF BBC PANORAMA PROGRAM "THE ACCUSED"

Original Broadcast Date: 6/17/01:
FERGAL KEANE: On a Autumn morning in 1982 an Israeli soldier walked
into a refugee camp and was confronted with a scene of desolation.

EMMANUEL ROSEN
Journalist for Israeli Defence Force, 1982
It was very quiet, no one screamed, no one yelled inside the camp. I
remember the smell. I remember the picture that people were lying one
on another and some of them were already dead, some of them were
still breathing.

KEANE: At least 800 civilians were massacred after Israel's Minister
of Defence, Ariel Sharon, allowed
Lebanese Phalangist militiamen into the camps of Sabra and Shatila.

Ariel Sharon speaking in 1985
Not one of us, no one of our soldiers, no one of our commanders, not
myself, no one of our political leaders
in Israel was involved in that tragic event.

KEANE: When Ariel Sharon says, and other senior Israeli officers,
that they couldn't possibly have predicted what might have happened...

MORRIS DRAPER
US Special Envoy to the Middle East, 1982
Complete and utter nonsense.

KEANE: Nobody has ever been prosecuted for the killings or for
failing in their responsibilities to the
murdered civilians. This is the story of those who stand accused.
In June 1982 Israel's army stormed across
an international border and invaded Lebanon. The Israelis said they
wanted to protect their borders from
Palestinian guerrilla attack and Ariel Sharon's army was soon laying
siege to the capital Beirut with its Palestinian camps.

MOUNAIR AHMED
It was very scary because you always hear the close bombs by and you
always hear someone just died or someone just got injured.

KEANE: An estimated 300 people were killed in a single day's
bombing.

Dr RANAAN GISSEN Israeli Prime Minister's spokesman:
The threat emanating from Lebanon as far as the terrorism that was
launched by the PLO was such that if
we didn't go to that war, the whole northern part of Israel would
have been depopulated.

KEANE: After two months of war the PLO gave in to the Israeli demand
that they leave Lebanon. For the
civilians in Sabra and Shatila it meant peace. Children swam in the
craters left by bombs. Tens of
thousands of people were crammed into the ghettos of Sabra and
Shatila. For families like the Ahmeds
peace gave them a chance to start work on reconstruction.

NABIL AHMED
Many of the homes that we lived in had no doors, no windows. The
ceiling half messed up is shaky. No
water, no electricity. It was very, very difficult.

KEANE: An estimated 14,000 PLO and Syrian fighters were evacuated
from Beirut. With the fighters
forced out, many left behind in the camps felt afraid.

SUAD SURUR
It was natural to feel afraid after the Palestinian resistance had
left, there was an inevitable feeling of fear as
if we sensed that something even more terrible was going to happen,
even though we had no idea what it was going to be.

KEANE: The people left behind in the camps had one enemy to fear
above all others. They were a
Lebanese Christian militia who had been at war with the PLO for seven
years - the Phalange.

NABIL AHMED: The impression of Phalange was like they're basically
killers. The minute they would get hold of a Palestinian they would kill.

KEANE: The Phalange were led by the charismatic and ruthless Bashir
Gemayel. He was Israel's main ally
in Lebanon. Israel's Mossad knew from meetings with him that he
wanted to 'eliminate' the Palestinian
problem, and now he was about to become President of Lebanon.
Bashir's election worried the people of
the camps but they'd been promised security. It was a deal brokered
by America with the Israeli's and the beleaguered Lebanese government.

MORRIS DRAPER
US Special Envoy to the Middle East, 1982
America said that the women and children and others left behind would
be able to live in peace, as long as
they obeyed the law and Lebanese jurisdiction. It was as simple as
that - a very simple document. I wrote it.

KEANE: They needed that document because in Lebanon's civil war
civilians were routinely murdered as
witnessed by a British photographer several years earlier.

DON McCULLIN
I remember listening to an old lady protesting to a Phalange and I
looked at him and I looked at her and I
thought well what's it mean to him, this old lady, why is he
bothering? Why doesn't he just let her go? And
what he did, he saved himself the trouble and he emptied a magazine
into this old lady's chest and abdomen and she just dropped down sighing.

KEANE: On all sides Lebanon's civil war embraced a culture of murder.

McCULLIN: People who committed the acts of murder that I saw that
day were wearing crucifixions and were calling themselves Christians.

KEANE: But the people in Sabra and Shatila had been promised they'd
be protected from their enemies, and then everything exploded.

BBC Radio News -15th Sept 1982:
The fragile peace in Lebanon is threatened by renewed tension
following the disclosure overnight that the
President Elect, Mr Bashir Gemayel, died in yesterday's bomb attack
on the headquarters of his.....

KEANE: The Phalangists were distraught and enraged by the
assassination.

NEWS: The Phalangist militia that Mr Gemayel once headed and the
Israeli forces are said to be on high alert.

KEANE: A Syrian agent would confess to the killing but many in the
camps feared the Palestinians would be blamed.

NABIL AHMED: People were scared, people get worried, and I remember
my mother's words that day in Arabic she said "God protect us from what's coming".

KEANE: Israeli forces were now close by the camps. There was
crossfire. Nabil's mother urged him, as a fit 16 year old, to try and escape.

NABIL AHMED: When my mother agreed with my uncle to let me go and
run away, everybody in that
shelter... I went down to the shelter, everybody, including my
younger brothers and sisters, started crying
and screaming. They wanted to go with me. Those moments were the
most painful. I'll never forget those moments.

Wednesday / 15TH SEPTEMBER

KEANE: Ariel Sharon now decided to send his army into West Beirut,
breaking a promise to the
Americans that they would stay out of that part of the city. Israeli
military intelligence claimed there were
2000 PLO and other Muslim fighters in West Beirut. But in the event,
the battle was small.

General YORAM YAIR
Commander, Paratroop Brigade, 1982
There was not fighting. I have seen enough fighting in my life to
tell you this was not similar. It was relatively very easy, very secure.

KEANE: For the Phalange, convulsed by grief and anger, it was a
moment of crisis. The director of operations toured the front line.

FOUAD ABOU NADER
Phalange Head of Operations, 1982
I decided to go and visit every one on the front, every soldier,
every barrack, just to boost the morale and to
tell them that even if Bashir is dead, we can go on, you know.. we
have the legacy, we have friends, we are still very strong you know.

KEANE: Ariel Sharon arrived in Beirut on Wednesday morning insisting
there were PLO forces in the
camps. He'd later testify he didn't want his troops fighting and
dying in Sabra and Shatila. And so after
conferring with his senior officers, including Amos Yuron, the
Commander for Beirut and the refugee camps, Ariel Sharon agreed a fateful order.

"Only one element, and that is the Israeli Defence Force, shall
command the forces in the area. For the
operation in the camps the Phalangist should be sent in."

KEANE: Ariel Sharon went to see the Phalange at their headquarters
to discuss the Beirut operation.
Among the commanders was a close friend of the murdered Bashir
Gemayel, a man called Elie Hobeika.
His name will appear many times in this story. Now, a day after
their leader's murder, the Israelis were asking the Phalange to fight in Palestinian
camps.

Could Ariel Sharon have been in any doubt about what would have
happened if you sent the Phalangists into a Palestinian refugee camp, an
undefended camp?

MORRIS DRAPER
US Special Envoy to the Middle East, 1982
Well you'd have to be appallingly ignorant. I mean I suppose if you
came down from the moon that day you might not predict it.

Dr RANAAN GISSEN
Israeli Prime Minister's Spokesman
All the evidence shows, and that was clearly also in the Kahan
Commission report, that first of all we did
not know. None of our officers ever could conceive of that.

KEANE: But you should have expected it surely. These people had
been killing since 1975 between them.
They'd suffered massacres at the hands of the Palestinians. What
else did you think they were going to do?

GISSEN: But under the guidance and control of our forces, we never
expected that that would happen. We
never thought that these kind of forces which trained with us, which
were supposed to take part in the
fighting, would actually go into that area. And under the guidance
of their leader, you know.. conduct a massacre.

Thursday / 16TH SEPTEMBER

As Thursday, September 16th dawned the Israelis had moved into Beirut
in force.

NABIL AHMED
We saw tanks.. we saw Israeli tanks, we saw soldiers. We did not
come close to them, just from a distance because we would be arrested,
taken away.

FERGAL KEANE
For the first time in history the Israelis had occupied an Arab
capital. By Thursday morning Israel's chief of
staff was able to tell Ariel Sharon the whole city is in our hands.
There is complete quiet now. The camps
are closed. Now that's a crucial moment because at that point Ariel
Sharon and his army became legally
responsible for the safety of the civilians in Beirut, and that
included the people of Sabra and Shatila.
Under the long established humanitarian laws which govern the
behaviour of an occupying army in an
international armed conflict, political and military commanders are
responsible for protecting civilians from
harm. Judge Richard Goldstone is the man who led the prosecution of
suspected war criminals in the UN
tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Judge Goldstone is
one of the leading figures helping to
develop war crimes law. He's well acquainted with the concept of
what is called 'command responsibility'.

Judge RICHARD GOLDSTONE
Former Chief Prosecutor
UN War Crime Tribunals, 1994-96
A military commander and a political leader who was involved in
giving instructions would clearly have an
obligation under the law of war, and under the Geneva Convention, to
ensure that innocent civilians were
not murdered or raped or injured in any way. Command responsibility
goes fairly far, it requires obviously
knowledge of the danger to innocent civilians if there's that
knowledge then there's an obligation to take
reasonable steps to protect them.

KEANE: In Tel Aviv Ariel Sharon and his Chief of Staff met with
American diplomats at the Defence
Ministry. The Americans wanted to know why the Israelis had broken
their promise and gone into West
Beirut. The Chief of Staff said it was to prevent a Phalangist
frenzy of revenge.

DRAPER: The whole group of maybe twenty of us altogether fell
silent. It was a dramatic moment.

KEANE: But the Israelis also mentioned the possibility of deploying
the Phalange in West Beirut. Morris
Draper says the Americans were horrified at the suggestion.

DRAPER: We made it very clear, under no circumstances could the
United States tolerate this.

KEANE: Why?

DRAPER: Because it would be a massacre, we knew. Couldn't let those
people in.

Reconstruction

KEANE: But at around 7 o'clock the Phalange - about 150 of them -
were let in to Sabra and Shatila. It
was a small force. The Phalange knew there was no big PLO army
waiting for them. In groups they went
to people's homes.

SUAD SURUR
There were thirteen of them. They knocked on the door. My father
said "Who is it?" My younger brothers
were sleeping. The men replied they were Israelis. I whispered to
my father that they weren't Israelis.

Summer 1982

KEANE: The Phalange asked the Israelis to fire flares into the sky
to light their way. The Israelis agreed to
their ally's request.

NABIL AHMED
The sky was completely lighted all night long and after certain time
and at night we could hear noise heavy
coming from the camp.

KEANE: Groups of civilians were herded into the streets, 12 year old
Mounair among them.

MOUNAIR AHMED
They said the men and the older guys to go to the right and the women
and children go to the left. They
kept on telling us "Don't worry, you're going to be okay, you're
going to be okay, nothing going to happen".

KEANE: The Israelis had a forward command post about 200 metres away
which overlooked the camps.
There were Phalangists stationed on the roof with the Israelis. It
was around this time, 7 o'clock on
Thursday evening that an Israeli officer stationed on the roof
overheard a deeply troubling conversation. He
was standing close to Elie Hobeika, the Leader of the Phalange
operation. A soldier inside the camps came
on the radio. He told Hobeika he was holding 50 women and children.
What should he do with them?
Hobeika replied "That's the last time you're going to ask me a
question like that. You know exactly what to
do". There was raucous laughter from the other Phalangists. The
Israeli officer reported this to his
superior, General Amos Yuron. There would be more worrying reports
to the Yuron, but beyond warning
Elie Hobeika not to harm civilians the General took no further action
that night. Ariel Sharon was now at a
cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Ministers heard the Phalange were now
in the camps. Deputy Prime Minister David Levy was deeply troubled.

"When I hear that the Phalangists are already entering a certain
neighbourhood and I know what the
meaning of revenge is for them, what kind of slaughter, then no one
will believe we went in to create order there and we will bear the blame."

Reconstruction

KEANE: But the operation was not stopped. The Phalange were now
attacking people in their homes.

SUAD SURUR: Nobody dared look at anyone else. Even the little ones
wouldn't look at the older ones,
except for my little sister. While she was looking at us, a bullet
shot her in the head. She fell from my
mother's arms like a slaughtered bird. My brother Shardie was
looking around and calling out "Father"
calling for his father when he was shot in the head.

KEANE: Suad fell wounded among the bodies of her family. On the
streets groups of terrified civilians
were being shot at point blank range.

MOUNAIR AHMED: I was next to my mother. She was hit first and a lot
of people were crying loud and
little kids screaming, and I remember my sister was still alive and
they told her give us the ring and this..
which she did, and they shot her. There were also other things
happening was the woman telling them like
they would tell each other tell her take her clothes off and that,
and that, and they were hurting them other ways before they killed them.

KEANE: An American nurse working in a camp hospital saw civilians
fleeing.

ELLEN SIEGEL - Nurse
I became aware that people were being killed in the camp when people
started screaming and then running
to the hospital in large numbers and the people were
screaming "Phalange" and they had their fingers and
they were making a gesture across their throat like somebody was
slitting throats.

Reconstruction

SUAD: The men returned for a third time. They spoke to me
nicely. "You're still alive" they said. I shook
my head and smiled at them mockingly. They said "We're going to
finish you off right now." I said "As
you wish, do as you please." They shot me in the arm and they hit my
head with the butt of a rifle. One of
them shot me, the other one hit me. I lost consciousness.

KEANE: Sixteen year old Suad was also raped.

MOUNAIR AHMED: The hardest memories is hearing my mum praying and
hear a shot next to me and all
her blood was dripping on me, and that's the hardest one.

Reconstruction

Friday / 17TH SEPTEMBER

KEANE: Friday morning the Israeli Command in Beirut told the Chief
of Staff the Phalange had gone too
far. At 9am an Israeli tank commander saw the bodies of five women
and children. That morning the
Israelis briefed the press in Beirut.

"Yesterday night we had full control of all the important keys of the
city including the Palestinian camps of
Bourj Al-Barajneh, Sabra and Shatila."

KEANE: A Danish cameraman was one of the few outsiders to briefly
capture the Phalangist terror. The
women and children are being loaded onto a truck. They're
terrified. Shooting continues in the camp. The
Phalangist warns the cameraman. It's not known what happened to this
group. On Friday afternoon a group
of terrified women had escaped the Phalange and made their way to an
Israeli guard post outside the camps.

WOMEN: They shot and buried four families.

GUARD: I swear by God, I didn't see them.

WOMEN: We'll show you where they buried the people they killed.
Come with us to Shatila.

GUARD: I can't leave here.

WOMEN: We'll show you the bodies. Isn't it a sin? A nine-month old
baby?

KEANE: The women asked the Israelis to seek the release of their
sons and husbands.

GUARD: When the Phalangists are finished with them, they will
release them.

WOMEN: If they've been killing women and children how are they going
to release the young men? They
shot an old man and an old lady. They shot them in front of us.

KEANE: The people who went up to the Israeli soldier begging for
help, what did you feel when you were
watching those images?

Judge RICHARD GOLDSTONE
Former Chief Prosecutor
UN War Crime Tribunals, 1994-96
Well, you know I had the same feelings I had unfortunately too
frequently in my life and in my own country
in South Africa seeing women and children in those sort of extreme
situations. I came across those sorts of
images obviously coming out of the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. More
recently in Kosovo where there was
similar ethnic cleansing, and needless to say, in the horror of the
terrible genocide in Rwanda.

KEANE: That Friday morning, concerned about reports of killing, the
Israelis surrounding the camps
ordered the Phalange operation halted. But the Israelis allowed the
Phalange to stay in the camps, and the
killing continued. An Israeli officer encountered a group of fleeing
civilians on Friday afternoon in West Beirut.

General YORAM YAIR
Commander, Paratroop Brigade, 1982
I saw suddenly about 20 or 30 Palestinian trying to cross this road
and they are very hysterical and we didn't
allow them to pass. There was a young Israeli officer he got his
order not to let any Palestinian to cross into
the northern part of Beirut, and they were hysterical. I asked "What
happened, what happened?" They say
"They kill us." I say "Okay, go, pass."

KEANE: The colonel reported this over the radio to his superior,
General Yuron. Earlier General Yuron
and the Chief of Staff met the Phalange leadership. Though the
Israeli command in Beirut were now aware
of serious questions about the abuse of civilians they didn't raise
the issue with the Phalange. In fact it was
agreed the Phalange could remain in the camps for another 12 hours,
and the Israelis agreed to provide a bulldozer for the demolition of illegal houses.

SUAD SURUR
Throughout the night I stared at my dead brother, sister and father.
I was in a terrible state of madness. I
even lost my memory. But what could I do? I'd lost the ability to
speak and couldn't shout out.

KEANE: Back in Israel between 8 and 9 Ariel Sharon was told the
Phalangists had harmed the civilian
population more than was expected. They had gone too far. The
operation had been stopped his Chief of
Staff told him and the Phalange would be out of the camps by 5am.
Then, at around half past eleven he
received another phone call.

RON BEN YISHAI
Journalist
I found him at home sleeping. He woke up and I told him "Listen,
there are stories about killings and
massacres in the camps. A lot of our officers know about it and tell
me about it, and if they know it, the
whole world will know about it. You can still stop it." I didn't
know that the massacre actually started 24
hours earlier. I thought it started only then and I said to
him "Look, we still have time to stop it. Do something about it."
He didn't react.

Saturday / 18TH SEPTEMBER

KEANE: An Israeli inquiry found that having heard the Chief of
Staff's assurance, it wasn't Ariel Sharon's
duty to order any additional steps. The Phalange did not leave when
they'd promised. There was another
three hours of killing and burying the evidence before they
departed. In the early hours of Saturday
morning, they arrived at Gaza hospital in Sabra. A panic-stricken
Palestinian medical helper begged the
foreign doctors working there to help him.

ELLEN SIEGEL - Nurse
He started begging, "Somebody give me a coat, please give me a coat.
Somebody help me." And so
somebody gave him a white coat and so of course he was the only
person in the group that was of Semitic
looking dark skin, and he was picked out immediately as we started to
walk. We didn't get very far. We
walked for about a minute and he was stopped. I saw him on his knees
begging and I turned around - we
were told to keep walking - and the next thing I heard was a shot
from behind me and I didn't turn around and look back.

KEANE: At around 8 o'clock, 38 hours after they'd first entered, the
Phalangists left Sabra and Shatila.
The first Israeli soldiers to enter the camps were confronted with a
scene of horror.

EMMANUEL ROSEN
Journalist for Israeli Defence Force, 1982
In the camps when we entered, people were dead or dying. No one was
screaming, no one was talking.
They were all dead or about to be dead. It was very clear to see
that they were not shot to death, that they
were tortured. When I understood that these were the Phalange, the
first reaction were these people are
killers. They're really the worst people I've ever met. For me
immediately you know you go back to pictures from the holocaust.

KEANE: In the rubble were children who'd been scalped, young men
who'd been castrated.

NABIL AHMED
I was hoping to find my family alive. Then, when I start seeing the
bodies in the streets, I accepted the fact
then that I'll be grateful to find their bodies. You see what
happened, they put them in a house, they killed
them and they bulldozed the houses on them, so we were digging the
rubble to identify. So we pulled the
hair of my relative and that's when we realised that this is the spot
where they are there.

KEANE: This was the house where Suad Surur had lain among the bodies
of her family.

ROSEN: Most of the soldiers that I knew they felt terrible about it,
and they felt that this is the time to
disconnect all the connections with this Phalange, just go out of
this country, this Lebanon, and go back to
being Israel defence forces.

KEANE: An American diplomat at the scene broke news of the slaughter
to his country's special
ambassador. Ambassador Draper sent a furious message to Ariel Sharon
saying he was responsible for the area.

MORRIS DRAPER
US Special Envoy to the Middle East, 1982
"You must stop the acts of slaughter, they are horrifying. I have a
representative in the camp counting the
bodies. You should be ashamed. The situation is absolutely
appalling. They're killing children! You have
the field completely under your control and are therefore responsible
for that area."

KEANE: And you've had no doubt since then or at that time that Ariel
Sharon was responsible?

DRAPER: No doubt whatsoever. Well of course more Israelis have to
share in that responsibility but absolutely.

KEANE: The Israeli government had first denied there had been any
Israeli army position in the area and
rejected any blame for what had happened at the camps. But in Israel
and throughout the world there was
public and political condemnation. Ariel Sharon was the target of
bitter criticism in Israel's own
parliament. He vigorously defended himself against any suggestion of
responsibility for the massacre.

Ariel Sharon speaking in 1982
Not for a moment did we imagine that they would do what they did.
They had received harsh and clear
warnings. Had we for one moment imagined that something like this
would happen we would never have let them into the camp.

KEANE: But the pressure inside Israel did not let up. Four hundred
thousand people took to the streets to
demand a public inquiry, the biggest demonstration in the history of
the state. There was unease too in the army.

General YORAM YAIR
Commander, Paratroop Brigade, 1982
Like always happened, all the politicians are throwing the
responsibility as fast and as far as they can, and it
happened so that suddenly we, the troops in West Beirut, were blamed
for what happened.

KEANE: Eventually and against the wishes of Ariel Sharon, the
government set up a judicial commission
of inquiry. It was for the Middle East a unique inquiry.

Dr RANAAN GISSEN
Israeli Prime Minister's Spokesman
Show me another nation that when two people.. you know.. Arabs kill
Arabs or let's say two different
people, it wasn't that the Jews were involved in, then the country,
because we were there, we conducted.. no
one forced us, we conducted our own investigation.

KEANE: Ariel Sharon faced detailed questioning by the Commission.
His lawyers argued he hadn't been
negligent in failing to stop the massacre, and no reasonable man
could have foreseen the danger. So how
well did Ariel Sharon know Lebanon's culture of murder? After one
visit in February 1982 he said of the
Lebanese "They're the kind of people who kiss ladies' hands and they
murder." Ariel Sharon knew of the
history of hatred between the Phalange and the Palestinians, and he
knew that Christian civilians had
suffered savage slaughter at the hands of the PLO.

NADER: Of course they burnt all the houses, destroyed everything,
whatever they can kill, they can rob,
they can rape, they have done this.

KEANE: Who was the enemy? Let's be specific about that.

FOUAD ABOU NADER
Phalange Head of Operations, 1982
The Palestinians were the enemy at the time, definitely the
Palestinians and all the people who were coming
to help the Palestinians to fight back.

KEANE: Many in the Israeli ranks in Lebanon knew exactly what the
Phalange felt about the Palestinians.

EMMANUEL ROSEN
Journalist for Israeli Defence Force, 1982
Hatred is not enough to say how they treated the Muslims and the
Palestinians in Lebanon. The way they
described what they're going to do to them when they are going to
control Lebanon, they use the
terminology that I never heard before. Terminology that maybe was
common in Lebanon but not in Israel,
even in the most bitter days of terror attacks and everything that we
had to go through all these years.

KEANE: In Beirut one Israeli officer had a shocking request from a
Phalangist.

General YORAM YAIR
Commander, Paratroop Brigade, 1982
He say "Do me a favour, make sure to bring me that much." I say
what is it? He say "Listen, I know that
you will sooner or later go inside West Beirut. Promise me that you
will bring me that much Palestinian
blood, I want to drink it."

KEANE: Just six weeks before Sabra and Shatila, Ariel Sharon ordered
his troops to take all steps to stop
the Phalange abusing another group, the Druse. But why, when he
talked of the Lebanese as 'murderers',
did he allow the Phalange into the camps?

Dr RANAAN GISSEN
Israeli Prime Minister's spokesman
Well you know we live in the Middle East so we do not always have the
choice of choosing our allies or our
enemies. We have to take them as they come.

KEANE: Even if they're butchers?

GISSEN: No, I'm saying we had the belief, and I think perhaps a
misguided belief, we thought that after
training them and after going, that they will follow orders, and this
is a disciplined army.

KEANE: But the Kahan Commission, the inquiry headed by the most
senior judge in Israel, said Ariel
Sharon had "disregarded the danger of acts of vengeance and
bloodshed by the Phalangists against the
population of the refugee camps. He failed to take this danger into
account when he decided to have the
Phalangists enter the camps." And he'd failed to
order "..appropriate measures for preventing or
reducing the danger of massacre as a condition for the Phalangist
entry into the camps."

DOV WEISGLASS
Lawyer for Ariel Sharon at Kahan Commission
I don't think that anyone disputes that the Commission has done a
good faced, honest and straight work of
the collection of the facts. As much as the conclusion which were
drawn out of these facts, not all of them
are accepted by him. The conclusion that himself and the others had
to foresee this possibility is denied.

KEANE: Ariel Sharon lost his job as Defence Minister but stayed in
the cabinet. He's never accepted the
finding of indirect responsibility. But Sabra and Shatila was a war
crime. The question never asked by the
Kahan Commission was whether there should be indictments. Let us ask
that question first of the Phalange.
None has ever been arrested or charged in relation to what happened
in the camps. Some are now
successful businessmen living in Beirut. Fouad Abou Nader told us he
was aware of Israeli accounts which
implicate him and other commanders in the plan to send men into
camps. He denies any part in the
massacre.

KEANE: Who did do the killing?

FOUAD ABOU NADER
Phalange Head of Operations, 1982
I don't want to comment about that. I told you there is a lot of
question marks on this issue and I'm not sure
I can.. I have myself the real answers to this.

KEANE: Are you worried that this might ever become an issue for war
crimes, that somebody might
pursue people in the Lebanese forces, pursue you for example on the
basis of what's been said by the
Israelis for war crimes?

NADER: I have peace of mind on this issue. I don't think I am
concerned at all in this. I am not afraid at
all of any such kind of inquiry.

KEANE: Do you feel angry then when you hear yourself effectively
being accused of war crimes?

NADER: Oh yes, oh yes I am very angry.

KEANE: Are you a little worried as well perhaps?

NADER: No, not at all. Not at all. Not at all.

KEANE: But the man accused of leading the slaughter is still living
in East Beirut. His name is Elie
Hobeika. Hobeika eventually switched sides, abandoning the Israelis,
offering his services to the Syrians
and becoming leader of the militia. Elie Hobeika's reputation as a
ruthless killer makes him a man still
feared in Beirut. We've asked him for an interview on a number of
occasions and he's refused. But he has
now agreed to a meeting and I'm hoping to be able to record some of
our conversation. How did Elie
Hobeika answer the charges against him?

Voice of ELIE HOBEIKA
Phalange commander, 1982
I'm not a war criminal. I don't regard myself as a war criminal.

KEANE: You're described as a ruthless, cold killer.

HOBEIKA: Yes.

KEANE: Do you think that's all untrue, that description of you?

HOBEIKA: I did the war. I was a soldier. I fought at many fronts.
I survived.

KEANE: You say that you are now a man of peace. Can I just put to
you the other scenario, that you are a
mass murderer who is lying to avoid being brought to justice.

HOBEIKA: Which justice?

KEANE: International justice.

HOBEIKA: I am not afraid of international justice.

KEANE: But what about those whom the Kahan Commission said had
indirect responsibility, those
accused of disregarding the danger to civilians and of failing to
ensure the proper protection of civilians in
the areas under their control?

I understand that as a judge of a South African court you don't want
to get into labelling people in other
countries as war criminals, but in your assessment of command
responsibility, isn't it reasonable to say that
if responsibility goes all the way to the top, to the person who gave
the orders, that potentially makes Ariel
Sharon a war criminal.

Judge RICHARD GOLDSTONE
Former Chief Prosecutor
UN War Crime Tribunals, 1994-96
Well it depends very much on the facts, but if the person who gave
the command knows, or should know on
the facts available to him or her, that is a situation where innocent
civilians are going to be injured or killed,
then that person is as responsible, in fact in my book more
responsible even than the people who carry out
the order.

KEANE: One lawyer who was part of an independent commission that
investigated Sabra and Shatila
argues that Israel's then Defence Minister had clear legal
responsibilities.

Professor RICHARD FALK
International Law, Princeton University
Sharon's specific command responsibility arises from the fact that he
was Minister of Defence in touch with
the field commanders, that he actually was present there in Beirut,
that he met with the Phalange leadership
and it was he that gave the directions and orders that resulted in
the Phalange entering the camps in September.

KEANE: Professor Falk argues that Ariel Sharon's failure to meet the
responsibility to protect civilians from abuse and death should have legal
consequences.

FALK: I think there is no question in my mind that he is indictable
for the kind of knowledge that he either had or should have had.

KEANE: So let me be absolutely clear, you are in no doubt that Ariel
Sharon is indictable as a war criminal.

FALK: No doubt whatsoever.

DOV WEISGLASS
Lawyer for Ariel Sharon at Kahan Commission
Never ever I heard that anyone even suggested that this kind of..
let's call it a professional mistake, a
professional military mistake or a professional political mistake
even be mentioned in the same token with
international crime or with war crime. In a way those people who do
say, unfortunately, abuse, I think, a
very important value of the international community which the
intention and the need to punish war crimes.
But when you take the word 'war crimes' or 'punishment of war crimes'
or 'international trial' and you try to
apply it into this case, you see it's an abuse of these important
values and it's simply totally baseless.

KEANE: The legacy of Sabra and Shatila hasn't damaged the careers of
the central characters. Elie
Hobeika became a minister for refugees in post war Lebanon. General
Amos Yuron, the Israeli
Commander outside the camps, is now Director General of Israel's
Defence Ministry, and earlier this year
Ariel Sharon became Prime Minister of Israel. The massacre seemed
long forgotten when Mr Sharon arrived at the White House.

GEORGE BUSH: Welcome Mr Prime Minister. Glad you're here.

SHARON: Thank you.

Dr RANAAN GISSEN
Israeli Prime Minister's spokesman
People who were there, just because they were there, paid the full
price for that.

KEANE: Did they?

GISSEN: I think so.

KEANE: Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister, Amos Yuron who was Commander
at Sabra and Shatila is now Director General of the Defence Ministry.
What kind of price is that?

GISSEN: Well we paid for something that they were not directly
responsible for, that they did not do.

KEANE: The question of legal justice is on the minds of some of
those who survived the massacre. Suad
Surur was crippled for life and she lost six members of her family
including her father.

SUAD: He is dead. How can I claim justice for him when he is dead.
I might be able to get justice for the
people killed in their own homes, but the people who did this crime
might also be dead by then.

KEANE: If a country launches it's own investigation, it's own
commission, for example the Kahan
Commission which is based really as a moral investigation, is that
enough? Can it be said to have satisfied the requirements of justice?

Judge RICHARD GOLDSTONE
Former Chief Prosecutor
UN War Crime Tribunals, 1994-96
Well clearly justice requires that criminals should be brought to
book and if people, regardless of who they
are, are shown by an investigation to have been in breach of the law,
then clearly criminal prosecution
should follow, and in the case of Sabra and Shatila, clearly the
Kahan Commission found that very serious
crimes had been committed and I have no doubt any decent person would
regret the fact that not a single criminal prosecution followed.

KEANE: Ariel Sharon said recently he regretted the tragedy of Sabra
and Shatila, but asked if he would apologise he replied "To apologise for what?".


To watch the Panorama program:
http://www.middleeast.org/news.cgi?function=video&category=Feature_Videos