After observing a moratorium of 30 years, Israel released on Thursday records and minutes of secret meetings held on the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre. The documents show that the Minister of Defence at that time, Ariel Sharon, feared indictment for the crime of genocide if Israeli officials’ recognized prior knowledge of the massacre in the Palestinian refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila, in Lebanon.
Sharon initially refused to resign from his post in accord with the recommendation of the Kahan Commission of Inquiry into the massacre. He warned that according to his interpretation of the 1950 statute on genocide all the ministers of government at the time could be considered accomplices to the massacre.
At a cabinet meeting, convened on February 10, 1983, Sharon outlined his response to the Commission’s report saying;
“We all urged this, we all enabled it, by asking them (the Phalangist Christian militias) to enter the camps. We were present, we lit up the area and we evacuated casualties. It is common knowledge that we were in the area to keep the opposition away, and we did not isolate it from other areas. We kept forces in the area to ensure the mission was carried out, and in case they ran into trouble and needed help getting out.”
The cabinet ultimately adopted the Kahan commission’s report against Sharon’s recommendation, and he was sacked from his position as minister of defence.