In september 1982, Lebanese miliatias allied with the Israeli army committed the massacre of the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, killing about 3000 civilians.
The israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982
In June 1982, the israeli army, who already occupied parts of south Lebanon, started a large invasion of Lebanon. The israeli troups progressed under fierce resitance from Palestinian and Libanese fighters. The Israeli army succeeded in besieging the western part of the capital, Beirut, that hosted the leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
The seige of Beirut
The heroic resitance of combattants of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O) and the Lebanese national movement stopped the israeli troups from entering west-Beirut. For seven weeks, Israel bombed the city by sea, air and land, cutting off the food, water and electricity supplies, and occupying the airport and some of its southern suburbs, but without achieving any major goals.
The ceasefire agreement
After this long resistance of besieged Beirut, US diplomat Philip Habib started a mediation. The negociation led to an agreement under which, Israel committed to withdraw its troops away from Beirut and to never enter the city and the Palestinian Liberation Organization and its combattant would leave Beirut. The agreement had assigned responsibility to an American-led Multinational Force for guaranteeing the safety of those non-combatant Palestinians who remained.
On August 21 , 350 French paratroopers arrived in Beirut, followed by an additional 800 US Marines and international peacekeepers and 400 Italian soldier to oversee the departure of the PLO, first by ship and then by land, to Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, and Syria.
The departure of Palestinian combattants started on August 26th and culminated with the departure of the historic palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on August 30th, 1982.
The massacre of the Palestinian refugee Camps
After the departure of the Palestinian combattants, the international force decided suddenly to withdraw from Beirut on September 13th, leaving the civilians without protection.
Tow days later the Israeli army entered the western part of Beirut and beseiged the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The Israeli army brought a number of its allied militias to enter the Palestinian refugee camps, claiming to cleanse them of fighters.
Militias allied with the Israeli army began systematically killing all camp residents, in their homes and streets. The Israeli army prevented civilians fleeing the massacre from leaving the camps. The massacre took place during three days, under the siege and supervision of the Israeli army. An unknown number of victims were burried in mass graves inside and around the camps.
The number of massacre victims
There are several reports indicating the number of martyrs in the massacre, but they has a large discrepancy in the number of victims. The Israeli Commission of Inquiry headed by Yitzhak Kahan concluded in its final report from Lebanese and Israeli sources that the number of dead was between 700 and 800 people. But the British journalist Robert Fisk reported that one of the Maronite militia officers, who refused to reveal his identity, said that the militia members killed 2,000 Palestinians. As for the French-Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk, he said in a book published on the massacre that the Red Cross collected 3000 bodies, while the militia members collected an additional 2000 bodies, which indicates at least 3000 people were killed in the massacre.
The official Israeli investigation concluded that Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon bears “personal responsibility” for the Sabra and Shatila massacre and recommended his dismissal from the post of Defense Minister. Sharon’s apparent complicity in the massacre led to him being called the “Butcher of Beirut” among the Arabs. Till to day none was held accountable for this massacre.
The set of stamps:
This set of stamps was issued by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1983. The stamps bear real pictures of the massacre that were published in the press at the time. The set is composed of 5 stamps with facial values 10, 25, 40, 50 and 100 fils, and a larger sheet with 100 fils facial value.
Catalogue Reference: Yvert & Tellier 492 – 496 and BF – 35