A real war criminal
War crimes trial -and three
The Sabra and Chatila massacre is one of the most barbarous events in
recent history. Thousands of unarmed and defenseless Palestinian refugees-- old men, women
and children-- were butchered in an orgy of savage killing. On December 16, 1982 the
United Nations General Assembly condemned the massacre and declared it to be an act of
In June 1982, Israel again invaded the rest of Lebanon. In operation "Peace for Galilee" Israeli forces bombed and besieged Beirut for two months until Palestine Liberation Organisation leaders agreed to leave the city. An estimated 18,000 people were killed and 30, 000 injured.
Background of the massacre
Israel's participation in prior massacres directed against Palestinian
people creates a most disturbing pattern of a political struggle carried on by means of
mass terror directed at the civilians, including women, children, and the aged.
Israel moves into West Beirut
The IDF, however, did not enter the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps, but encircled and sealed them off with troops and tanks.
The number of victims
More detailed information
Warlord killed in Beirut car bombing
By Alan Philps, Middle East Correspondent
ELIE HOBEIKA, the former Christian Lebanese warlord accused of directing the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps, was killed by a huge car bomb explosion yesterday as he drove away from his home outside Beirut.
The list of Hobeika's enemies provided a whole menu of suspects: Israel, Syria, the Palestinians, and even his fellow Christian militiamen, who resented him for switching sides - abandoning the Israelis in favour of Syria - after the massacre.
The burnt-out and twisted remains of Elie Hobeika's car
The most widespread theories were that the killing was motivated by vengeance by Lebanese Christians or was an effort to stop him making disclosures about the 1982 massacre that could be damaging to the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon.
The size of the bomb befitted the blood-soaked career of its victim, a central figure in the 15-year Lebanese civil war which raged until 1990 amid shifting alliances and foreign invasions.
The explosives, in a parked Mercedes, demolished Hobeika's Range Rover as it drove by. Three other people in the car including two bodyguards, were killed. The immediate area was filled with wrecked cars and burning buildings.
Hobeika: blood-soaked career
The Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud, blamed Israel, saying Hobeika was killed to stop him testifying at the war crimes and genocide trial in Belgium which survivors of the 1982 massacre are hoping to bring against Mr Sharon, who was then defence minister. "The killers wanted to prevent the deceased from testifying before the court in Belgium," a presidential statement said.
Hobeika - known as HK to his men - served as intelligence chief of the Christian militia which entered the two refugee camps on orders from the Israeli army to flush out Palestinian gunmen who were allegedly hiding there. Instead they killed some 700 men, women and children, according to the Israelis, or 1,500 according to the Palestinians.
An Israeli inquiry, the Kahan commission, identified Hobeika as the man who led the militiamen into the camps as Israeli troops guarded the exits and lit the area with flares. The report said Mr Sharon bore indirect responsibility for the massacre, ruling that he should have known that Lebanese militiamen, incensed by the assassination of their leader, president-elect Bashir Gemayel, would run amok.
Palestinians in Lebanon loosed off their guns to celebrate Hobeika's death. But Sultan Abul-Aynain, a Palestinian leader there, was quick to blame the Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence service.
"Hobeika had announced that he was ready to present documents in Brussels. It is normal that Israel should assassinate him before the start of the trial of Sharon, the butcher of Sabra and Chatila," he said.
The Israeli government said it had nothing to do with the bomb. Israeli officials suggested that Syria was to blame, Hobeika having been a client of Damascus and knowing many secrets of how Syria controls the Lebanese state.
Shimon Peres, the foreign minister, said: "This is totally unfounded. We have left Lebanese territory. We don't want to play a role there any more."
One thing is certain: Hobeika had announced that he was ready to testify at the Sharon trial - if it ever takes place - in order to "clear his name". It was not clear whom he would blame, in the face of evidence from all sides that he led the militiamen in to the camps.
|Josy Dubie, a Belgian senator, said Hobeika told him that he felt threatened because of the "revelations", which he insisted he was saving up for the trial.|
"In whose interest was it to get rid of Hobeika? I do not have the answer. But for sure, it was in many people's interest for him not to talk," M Dubie said yesterday.
A Brussels court is to decide on March 6 whether a judicial investigation of Mr Sharon's role in the massacres can continue. His lawyer insists that Belgian courts have no jurisdiction in the case.
Warlord's trusted lieutenant assassinated
Did Jean Ghanem hold the secrets of the testimony on the 1982 Sabra and
Chatila massacre that Elie Hobeika planned to reveal about Ariel Sharon, the
Israeli Prime Minister, before Hobeika's assassination in Beirut last week?
If he did, we shall never know them because Mr Ghanem,
political deputy, died only four days before Hobeika, two weeks after a
mysterious car accident in east Beirut.
Mr Ghanem, a medical doctor who became a Phalangist
party official and
Mr Ghanem's wife was badly hurt in the crash and remains in hospital. He
died on 14 January after lying in a coma for two weeks. Hospital officials
said he had had a heart attack. But now Lebanon's judicial police plan to
ask Mrs Ghanem if she wishes to exhume her husband's body for a second
autopsy and Nabih Berri, the Lebanese parliament speaker, says that the
death of Mr Ghanem who was also second in command of Hobeika's Al Waad
party may be linked to Hobeika's murder.
Another of Hobeika's former militia buddies, Karim Pakradouni, who is now
head of the Phalange Party, says the same thing.
Lebanon blamed Israel for Hobeika's murder which Mr Sharon himself denied.
An anonymous phone-caller in Cyprus claimed his killing as the work of a
supposedly anti-Syrian group that no one has ever heard of. Mr Hobeika, who
led the Phalangist killers into Sabra and Chatila, changed sides from Israel
to Syria during the civil war. But Lebanese police have now traced the car
in which the bomb was placed to Jezzine, where Israel maintained an
intelligence headquarters during the 19 years that the Christian town was
under Israeli occupation.
In which case we might find out if two men took the secrets of the Sabra and
Chatila massacre to their graves.
Hobeika was known to be stressed out. When attending the funeral of a friend, former MP Jean Ghanem who died from injuries received in a car crash, Hobeika was said to have told several people that Ghanem had been murdered. Now it gets interesting. Even as Hobeikas charred remains were being swept up the Lebanese Interior Minister Elian Murr was hurriedly calling a press conference where he announced that the government, meaning Syria, had confirmation that Israel and its agents were behind this terrorist act, confirmation that strangely enough was never made public. Nevertheless, that doesnt stop Taylor and her journalistic ilk from implicating Israel in Hobeikas murder.
The secrets of the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian camp massacres in 1982 have gone to the grave with yet another former Phalangist militiaman, the third Lebanese to die mysteriously in little more than two months.
Michael Nassar, who was a former associate of Elie Hobeika the Phalangist leader murdered in a car bombing in Beirut in January was shot dead in Brazil by a man firing a pistol equipped with a silencer. His young wife, Marie, was shot down beside him.
A Belgian court has postponed a decision over whether to indict Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, for his role in the massacres he was held "personally responsible" by an Israeli commission of inquiry while lawyers for the survivors produce more evidence. But the vital evidence that may lie in the memories of those involved with the killers, who were allied to Israel at the time, is disappearing almost by the week as the death list grows.
Nassar grew immensely wealthy from the Lebanese civil war, selling former Phalangist weapons to Croatian militias during the Balkan conflict. One of his ships ended up in the hands of the Serb navy, which sent Nassar a warehouse bill after the guns were impounded. He fled Beirut in 1997 after a Lebanese court demanded he explain his wealth, put at £70m .
Nassar was apparently already worried when he pulled his car into a petrol station in the suburbs of Sao Paolo on Friday; he had used his mobile phone to tell a friend that he was being followed by men in a car. He made a second call telling his friend that his pursuers seemed to have vanished just before the gunman fired five bullets into his body and another seven into his wife.
Israel has denied that Hobeika, who had agreed to testify against Mr Sharon less than 24 hours before he was killed, was murdered by its own death squads. The Lebanese authorities say the opposite. Nassar a nephew of the former general Antoine Lahd who commanded Israel's one-time proxy, the "south Lebanon army militia" might have been the victim of a Brazilian mafia killing. Certainly, robbery was not the motive.
The first former right-wing Christian to be struck down was one of Hobeika's old colleagues, Jean Ghanem, who drove his car into a tree on New Year's Day. He died after being in a coma for two weeks. Then came Hobeika's murder and now Nassar's. Other former Phalangists live in fear of their lives, either from Israel or from Palestinians seeking revenge for the 1982 massacre in which up to 1,700 Palestinian civilians were slaughtered.
One of them recently said that dozens of Palestinians who survived the massacres were executed at a former barracks near Jounieh, north of the capital, after being held in containers for two weeks. The prisoners had been handed over to the Phalangists, he said, by Israeli troops at the ruined sports stadium in Beirut. The location of their mass grave is known to The Independent.
Did Jean Ghanem hold the secrets of the testimony on the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacre that Elie Hobeika planned to reveal about Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, before Hobeika's assassination in Beirut last week?
If he did, we shall never know them because Mr Ghanem, once Hobeika's political deputy, died only four days before Hobeika, two weeks after a mysterious car accident in east Beirut.
Mr Ghanem, a medical doctor who became a Phalangist party official and served under Hobeika's ruthless command, is rumoured to have held documents that his former boss intended to present to Belgian lawyers in their attempt to indict Mr Sharon for his involvement in the massacre in which up to 1,700 Palestinian civilians were killed. But on New Year's Day, Mr Ghanem, who was only 56 and with no history of heart problems, drove his car into a tree in the suburb of Hazmieh only a few hundred metres from the spot where Hobeika was killed by a car bomb last week.
Mr Ghanem's wife was badly hurt in the crash and remains in hospital. He died on 14 January after lying in a coma for two weeks. Hospital officials said he had had a heart attack. But now Lebanon's judicial police plan to ask Mrs Ghanem if she wishes to exhume her husband's body for a second autopsy and Nabih Berri, the Lebanese parliament speaker, says that the death of Mr Ghanem who was also second in command of Hobeika's Al Waad party may be linked to Hobeika's murder.
Another of Hobeika's former militia buddies, Karim Pakradouni, who is now head of the Phalange Party, says the same thing.
Lebanon blamed Israel for Hobeika's murder which Mr Sharon himself denied. An anonymous phone-caller in Cyprus claimed his killing as the work of a supposedly anti-Syrian group that no one has ever heard of. Mr Hobeika, who led the Phalangist killers into Sabra and Chatila, changed sides from Israel to Syria during the civil war. But Lebanese police have now traced the car in which the bomb was placed to Jezzine, where Israel maintained an intelligence headquarters during the 19 years that the Christian town was under Israeli occupation.
The car's original owner has told the police that he sold his Mercedes 280 to two unidentified men without registering the transaction; the two buyers, he said, appeared to come from a neighbouring village. Adnan Addoum, the Lebanese Prosecutor General, says he is prepared to open a criminal investigation into Mr Ghanem's death if his widow agrees.
In which case we might find out if two men took the secrets of the Sabra and Chatila massacre to their graves
Hobeika was well-known for his activities during the Lebanese civil war
Ex-militia head tied to Palestinian massacres killed - Hobeika dies in Beirut car bombing
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- The former Christian militia leader Elie Hobeika, who had been tied to 1982 Palestinian refugee camp massacres, died in an explosion Thursday near his home in the suburbs of Beirut, government sources said.
In the first major car bombing to hit Lebanon in eight years, three of the former Lebanese minister's bodyguards also were killed in the blast and other people were injured, some seriously, the sources said. Lebanese government sources called it a "targeted assassination."
Witnesses said Hobeika's sport utility vehicle blew up 500 meters (about 550 yards) from his home as he and his bodyguards were heading for the beach. The effects of the blast could be seen several stories up the side of adjacent buildings.
|David Irving comments: The car bomb is
Israel's preferred method of assassination of inconvenient politicians in the Middle East.
Hbeika was the one man who could incriminate Ariel Sharon (above) in the forthcoming war
crimes trial, and Belgium was planning to call him as a witness.
We recall the car bomb which conveniently wiped out the first Christian Lebanese prime minister appointed in the wake of Sharon's murderous attack on the country in 1981.
And that in the summer of 1982, there was a little noticed news report in the International Herald Tribune: A girl stopped as she left the Israeli checkpoint on the outskirts of Beirut, driving a car found to be laden with explosive charges with Hebrew markings. She confessed that Israel had sent her to park the car outside the home of another Lebanese minister. The story appeared in one edition of the IHT, then vanished; no other newspaper reported it, to my knowledge.
Hobeika, 45, was well-known for his activities during the 15-year Lebanese civil war. He was the head of the largely Christian Lebanese Forces militia group. After the war, Hobeika served in several cabinet positions, including minister of energy, a job he left in 1998.
But he is best known for accusations surrounding his role in the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Muslim west Beirut in 1982, a year after Israel's invasion of Lebanon to drive Palestinian Liberation Organization fighters out of the country.
Hobeika's last public appearance was at the end of last year when he said he would be "telling the truth" about his role in the Sabra and Shatila atrocities, saying he was not guilty of the crimes committed.
Hobeika had said he was willing to go to a Belgian court, which may take up proceedings against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was Israel's defense minister at the time of the massacres.
A 1993 Belgian law allows local courts to try any person accused of war crimes, regardless of his nationality, position, or where the crime took place. The law allows victims to seek cases against suspected war criminals, and the local Belgian courts look into their breach of the Geneva War Crimes Convention.
Complaints filed by survivors of the massacres allege that Israeli forces provided shielding while the Christian militia killed as many as 2,000 Palestinians inside refugee camps to clear out what were being called Palestinian terrorists.
An official Israeli inquiry found Sharon indirectly responsible for the killings, saying he did nothing to stop the militias from entering the camps, despite fears that the militiamen might seek revenge for the death of their leader the previous day. As a result, Sharon was forced to resign from his position of minister of defense.
The Belgian courts have been approached by people from many nations seeking redress for alleged war crimes. Thirty Israelis with relatives killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks, for example, have brought a case against Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat.
The first case to be tried under Belgium's war crimes law led to the conviction of four Rwandans, including two nuns, for their role in the 1994 genocide that left up to 800,000 Rwandans dead. Other complaints pending target Iraq's President Saddam Hussein, Chile's former leader Augusto Pinochet, and the leaders of Chad, Guatemala and Cote d'Ivoire.
|Reagan spent WW2 in the safety of Culver City. His youthful picture shows the appearance of a determined actor.|