criminal investigation into Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's role
in the massacre of civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra
and Shatila should be launched, “Human Rights Watch”, a
Washington-based human rights group, urged today.
“There is abundant evidence that war crimes and crimes against
humanity were committed on a wide scale in the Sabra and Shatila
massacres but, to date, not a single individual has been brought to
justice”, said Hanny Megally, Executive Director of the Middle East
and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.
The call by Human Rights Watch came as Prime Minister Sharon begins
a visit to the United States. “President Bush should urge Prime
Minister Sharon to cooperate with any investigation”, Megally
Human Rights Watch stated that the United States had a substantial
interest in the case because the Israeli occupation of west Beirut
followed written U.S. assurances that Palestinians remaining there
would be safe, as part of an arrangement that saw the evacuation of
Palestine Liberation Organization forces.
In 1983, the Israeli government launched an investigation, known as
the Kahan commission, and concluded that Sharon held “personal
responsibility” for the massacres at Sabra and Shatila. As a result
of the commission's findings, Sharon resigned as Defence Minister, but
was never charged for war crimes.
Human Rights Watch said that the findings and conclusions of the
Kahan commission, however authoritative in terms of investigation and
documentation of the facts surrounding the massacre, “could not
substitute for proceedings in a criminal court in Israel or elsewhere
that would bring to justice those responsible for the killing of
hundreds of innocent civilians.”