This was a rebuttal to something that was removed. As for the details of what happened in Sabra and Shatila there's a wikipedia about it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabra_and_Shatila_massacre
I will attempt to put some order in some of what is said in jbird
s w/u. Most of what he says is true
, but some of his statements differ from from the truth in subtle, yet substantial, ways.
"During this period, a radical Christian group called the Phalange - a group aligned to Israel - took control of Lebanon."
The power structure of Lebanon and its origins require several books, and not a short mention in a w/u, as does the struggle between different ethnic groups in it. It is true that the Phalange, a Maronite Christian organization, was cooperating with the IDF. The Phalange were the major Christian group at the time, led by the Jemayel family. For fairness' sake it is also worth mentioning that the first Syrian sponsored Lebanese president came from the same family, and that the Lebanese constitution required at the time that the president be Christian.
"In June 1982, in response to increased attacks by the PLO, Israel invaded." Once again, this is true. It is worth stating that the area in the south of Lebanon (from the Litani river and south) was in full PLO control, and was not under the control of what little Lebanese government existed at the time (this is not to justify the Israeli invasion up to Beirut. This is largely the fault of Ariel Sharon, and I will take the time to defame him as I believe he well deserves in a future node).
"In February 1983, an Israeli Commission of Inquiry known as the Kahan Commission, found that eight Israeli officers had an indirect responsibility in the massacre - that is, they knew of it going on and did not try to stop it. They included Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. " I'll quote a brief summery of the findings:
"The Commission determined that the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla was carried out by a Phalangist unit, acting on its own but its entry was known to Israel. No Israeli was directly responsible for the events which occurred in the camps. But the Commission asserted that Israel had indirect responsibility for the massacre since the I.D.F. held the area, Mr. Begin was found responsible for not exercising greater involvement and awareness in the matter of introducing the Phalangists into the camps. Mr. Sharon was found responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge when he approved the entry of the Phalangists into the camps as well as not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed. Mr. Shamir erred by not taking action after being alerted by communications Minister Zippori. Chief of Staff Eitan did not give the appropriate orders to prevent the massacre. The Commission recommended that the Defense Minister resign, that the Director of Military Intelligence not continue in his post and other senior officers be removed.
This quote, as well as the full text of the commission's findings, can be read at: http://www.israel.org/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0ign0
The term "indirect responsibility" used, as one can see, does not necessarily refer to knowledge of the massacre but to chain-of-command responsibility to an area surrounded by Israeli troops. Oh, and Shamir and Begin were not officers, of course.
All this said, it goes without saying that Israel should not have allowed the massacre to occur. Sharon, Eitan, and several other Israelis acted in unacceptable ways during the Lebanese war (including lying to the Israeli cabinet). Letting Christian troops come in contact with Palestinians right after their leader was killed by a Palestinian car bomb was more than a mistake - it was a patronizing and inhuman act. A kind of "let's let them settle it amongst themselves" statement which should not have been made. IDF's powerful presence in the Beirut area and its alliance with the Phalangas placed a moral obligation on Israel that it did not stand up to.