The evacuation of Israeli armed forces from west Beirut is expected to be completed by next Sunday, just hours before the start of the Yom Kippur holiday, army sources said today.
The army has divided west Beirut into five zones and the Israeli forces will evacuate one zone each day for the next five days, the sources said. Israeli soldiers are continuing to search for weapons and ammunition left behind by the Palestine Liberation Organization when it withdrew from west Beirut last month. Arms not transported to Israel by Sunday will be marked for later pickup. The material found so far was said to be in “astounding quantities.”
MEDIA CONTINUES PROBE OF MASSACRE
Meanwhile, Israeli newspapers continuing their investigation of last Friday’s massacre of Palestinian civilians in the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps in west Beirut, have reported information at variance with the official version of events given to the Knesset today by Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. (See separate story).
According to the press reports, Israeli soldiers on the spot were aware of the bloodbath in the refugee camps long before the time Sharon claimed they first learned of the carnage.
Israeli paratroopers who had been stationed outside the Sabra camp told reporters they fired hundreds of flares over the camp last Thursday night to light the area for armed Christian Phalangists who were allowed inside by the Israelis for what they believed was a search for PLO terrorists still hiding there.
By Friday morning, Israeli officers were told of the slaughter in the camp by fleeing survivors, the press reported. In addition, Israeli officers on rooftop observation posts were able to view the inside of the camp through binoculars, although their field of vision was partially blocked by tall buildings and narrow streets.
A local Israeli commander tried to get Phalangist officers to halt the action but was told that they could not control their men. Israeli soldiers were quoted by the press as saying that the Phalangists came through Israeli lines. One paratroop sergeant was quoted by the Jerusalem Post today as berating government attempts to deny knowledge. “Its really infuriating to hear them, how they are trying to shake off responsibility,” he said.
The sergeant was quoted further as saying: “The Christians operated in full coordination with us and with our full support. We were alerted by radio that they were coming and told to let them through. No one thought of a massacre, of course, but of clearing out terrorists. Our people in observation posts could make out the progress of their movements inside the camp.”
Another Israeli soldier was quoted as saying the Phalangists, before entering the camp, boasted that “we are going to kill terrorists.” Another soldier said he was told by Phalangists that they regarded any Palestinian male over the age of 12 as a terrorist. According to Israeli soldiers at the scene, the slaughter was known by early Friday morning and was passed on immediately to higher authorities.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.