Damour massacre

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The Damour massacre - while shouting 'Allah u Akbar!' to kill 'for the Arabs' and 'for Muhammad'[1] - took place on January 20, 1976, during the 1975–1990 Lebaness Civil War. Damour, a Maronite Christian town on the main highway south of Beirut, was attacked by a coalition of Lebanese Muslim, left-wing militants of the Lebanese National Movement and Palestinian forces. Many of its people died either in battle or in the massacre that followed, and the others were forced to flee.[2]

Notable leaders in the massacre were two Palestinians: Zuheir-Mouhsein (Palestinian leader of the pro-Syrian founded As-Sa'iqa faction of the PLO​) also known as the "butcher of Damour" and Fatah's Abu Musa.[3][4][5]

The massacre entailed cruel acts and bragging about it with photos.[6]

Damour was the first major bloodletting of Lebanon's civil war, spiraling that country into a long enduring bloodshed, resulting in many thousands of fatalities.[4]

Overview

Women were raped and children were forced to witness their fathers being executed and stepped on by militants.[7]


Fatalities: some estimate: 684 civilians deaths,[8] others estimate: 582.[9] And others: 1,000.[10]

Summarized:[6]

Damour, a predominantly Christian town of 25,000 some 20 kilometres south of Beirut, experienced the worst mass slaughter in its history as a result of an attack by some 10,000 Palestinian terrorists... The attack itself had begun in the mountains and was apocalyptic. They were thousands, screaming “Allahu akbar! God is great! Attack them in the name of the Arabs. Let us offer Muhammad a holocaust!” They slaughtered anyone they found in their path: men, women and children.

Entire families were killed in their homes. Many women were gang-raped—just a few were left alive. One woman saved her teenage daughter from rape by smearing her face with a dye that made her look disgusting. During the butchery the attackers took pictures of themselves which they later sold to European newspapers.

Background

The massacre occurred as part of a series of events during the Lebanese Civil War in which Muslim Palestinians joined other Muslim forces,[11] in the context of the Christian-Muslim divide,[12] and soon Beirut was divided along the Lebanon's Green Line, with Christian enclaves to the east and Muslims to the west.[13]


The "Palestinian" militias sparked the beginning of a long and destructive civil war. Led by Yasir Arafat they aimed to cleanse the south from its inhabitants whom were opposing the oppressive Palestinian military presence and Arab nationalism. Arafat once stated that “the road to Jerusalem goes through Jounieh.”[7][14]

Testimony on overall "Palestinian" crime:[15]

Do you not remember Damour Lebanon. Let me remind you. Arafat and the PLO plunged Lebanon into "massacres, rape, mutilation, rampages of looting and killings. Out of a population of 3.2 million, some 40,000 or more people had been killed, 100,000 wounded, 5,000 permanently maimed."

Author elaborates on anti-Christian motivation:[16]

Prior to the 1967 war, an ominous phrase about Jews and Christians was heard in the Arab world: "First the Saturday people , then the Sunday people." Historian Bernard Lewis writes: "The Saturday people have proved unexpectedly recalcitrant, and recent events in  Lebanon indicate that the priorities may have been reversed." (Commentary , January 1976).

On Oct. 2, 1977, Patrick Seale wrote in the London Observer, "Secular nationalism throughout the Arab world has lost ground to a militant revival of Islamic orthodoxy , making all minorities tremble." Recently, anti-Christian sentiment erupted in Lebanon where ideological and class warfare also split along Moslem-Christian lines. 

Cries for a jihad (Moslem holy war) were frequent. Christians in the town of Damour were driven from their homes. An estimated 20,000 Christians died in the two-year civil war.

Author on Arafat's direct fault and how Damour massacre spiraled Lebanon into all out slaughter:[4]

When Lebanon's enduring civil war reached its climax in 1975-1976, during the period of America's amnesia following its rout by the North Vietnamese, Lebanon was not considered an area where the United States had interests. The context of the war never was reported in the American media. 

As the Muslim-Christian modus vivendi in Lebanon broke down into divided clans of Christian Arabs, Sunni Muslims, Shi'ite Muslims, Druse feudal-socialists and Palestinian refugees, the Palestine Liberation Organization, heavily subsidized to buy Soviet automatic weapons, barrage rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, easily outgunned everyone else. 

PLO ascendency provided both a pretext and a cover for Syria's moving into Lebanon, where it never had established an embassy because it considered Lebanon part of greater Syria.   The first great bloodletting of Lebanon's civil war occurred in January and February 1976, when the PLO and its allies shelled and overran the Christian town of Damour, consolidating a large, contiguous bloc of PLO turf.

On January 21, after the first days of the battle of Damour, Abu Musa, head of Asifa, the military branch of Fatah, said his men had killed 500 Phalange militiamen. Lebanese air force planes, the Syrian army and the PLO took part in the destruction of Damour, the dead running into thousands. The slaughter could not be blamed on a maverick faction, as is the PLO's custom; Yasser Arafat was directly responsible for Asifa, the spearhead of the attack. As Damour fell in February 1976, fighting had spread in Beirut, where the Hilton, Phoenicia and Saint Georges hotels were blown away, attracting more attention in the United States than Damour.


Damour was a major incident in a long list of massacres and crimes committed by the Palestinians and the Syrians Against the Lebanese (1975–90).[9]


This Christian town of 30,000 had resisted the PLO, thus it became the target for an all-out PLO and Moslem leftist.[17]

Events

On 9 January, the Muslim militias began a siege of Damour and Jiyeh.[18] Jiyeh was entered by Arafat's PLO on 17 January.[18]

First, some twenty Phalangist militiamen were executed, and civilians were lined up against a wall and sprayed with machine-gun fire.[19] Among the killed were family members of Elie Hobeika and his fiancée.[20]


NYT's Thomas L. Friedman explains the Phalangist Damouri Brigade, which carried out the Sabra and Shatila killing during the 1982 Lebanon War, sought revenge not only for the assassination of Bachir Gemayel but also for what he describes as past killings of their own people by Palestinians, including those at Damour.[21][22] A strong testimony to the Christian attitude and the link to Sabra Shatila comes from Khalaf Samir's words. "The Damour Brigades of the Lebanese Forces vowed to avenge their fallen townsmen and relatives. They swore not to stop the fighting until all Palestinians were driven out of Lebanon".[3]


According to an eyewitness, the attack took place from the mountain behind the town. "It was an apocalypse," said Father Mansour Labaky, a Christian Maronite priest who survived the massacre. "They were coming, thousands and thousands, shouting 'Allahu Akbar! (Allah is great!) Let us attack them for the Arabs, let us offer a holocaust to Mohammad!", and they were slaughtering everyone in their path, men, women and children."[23][24][3]


"Palestinian" militiamen were taking celebratory pictures after taking over The Damour.[7]

The majority of the victims were women, children and elderly people. The elderly were laid down side by side for a quicker execution. Women and girls were raped and killed inside the church. Newborns were ripped apart. Children were decapitated with hatchets. Houses were burnt down. The Palestinians and the Syrians under Zouheir Mohsen's command, Chief of as-Saiqa, executed this Genocide.[25]

Perpetrators

A joint coalition of Sai'qa, Fatah, PFLP, PDFLP, the 'Mourabiton' and left wing Muslim militias, began surrounding the town.[3]

Major attacking forces have been by brigades from the Muslim Lebanese al-Murabitun militia, the Palestinian Liberation Army[26] and as-Sa'iqa, as well as other members of other groups, including Fatah. Some sources also mention the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) among the attackers. There are reports that PLO forces were additionally joined by militiamen from Syria, Jordan, Libya,[27] Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and possibly even Japanese Red Army terrorists who were then undergoing training by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Lebanon.[28] Some mention the LMM alongside the PLO. [8](LMM a leftist, pan-Arabist and Syrian nationalist parties and organizations active during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War, which supported the PLO, some of its members evolved further on into Islamic fundamentalists).

Damour had one public hospital where Muslims and Christians were treated equally. The commander of the assault, Zuheir-Mouhsein, was later known as "The Butcher of Damour".[29] Assisting Mouhsein was Fatah commander Colonel Abu Musa. The siege began on January 9, 1976. According to British journalist Robert Fisk, Abu Musa actually led the attack.[3] Others also assert Abu Musa's major role.[4][5]

Between 5,000 [7] and 10,000[6] Palestinian terrorists participated in the crime.

Elimination of the Butcher of Damour

Zuheir Mohsen, leader of as-Sa'iqa, the butcher of Damour[3] was assassinated in July, 1979.[30][31] Yet, Arafat, whose forces participated in the crimes, was still spared at the time.[32][4]

Israel to the rescue: 1982

Documented:[33]

New York Times correspondent David Shipler visited Damour, a Christian village near Beirut, which had been occupied by the PLO since 1976, when Palestinians and Lebanese leftists sacked the city and massacred hundreds of its inhabitants. The PLO, Shipler wrote, had turned the town into a military base, “using its churches as strongholds and armories.”

When the IDF drove the PLO out of Damour in June 1982, Prime Minister Menachem Begin announced that the town’s Christian residents could come home and rebuild. Returning villagers found their former homes littered with spray-painted Palestinian nationalist slogans, Fatah literature and posters of Yasser Arafat. They told Shipler how happy they were that Israel had liberated them.

Author:[17]

Christian Damour - A Joint PLO-Moslem conquest.

... Few knew or remember that this Christian town of 30,000 had resisted the PLO, the target for an all-out PLO and Moslem leftist as early as 1976.

As the Christian world remained silent, the massacre of Damour took place, with some 10,000 inhabitants, brutally murdered and the survivors fled. Damour, empty of its residents, was taken over by the PLO, which made it into a stronghold including its churches...

American correspondents who visited the town following its capture by the Israeli forces reported:

From The New York Times, (June 21, 1982) by David Shipler:

"For nearly seven years, until the Israeli army attacked and captured it last week, the town was inaccessible to its own people ; the Palestine Liberation Organization made it a stronghold, using the churches as firing ranges and armories."

They called the Israeli army "the army of liberation."[34]

See also

Christian Lebanese victims.gif

References

  1. Bat Ye'or, "Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis." (United States: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005), p. 183 (Palestinism: a new Eurabian cult)
  2. Armies in Lebanon, 1985, Osprey Publishing
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 PLO Policy towards the Christian Community during the Civil War in Lebanon, ICT, May 7, 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Braley, R. (1984). "Bad news : the foreign policy of the New York times." Chicago: Regnery Gateway. p. 576 [1][2][3]
  5. 5.0 5.1 Andrew Gowers, ‎Tony Walker (1992). "Behind the Myth: Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Revolution." p. 151. It was also the stronghold of a Maronite leader, Camille Chamoun, who was a particular target of Palestinian hatred. From mid-January 1976, columns of Fatah fighters from the southern port city of Sidon converged on Damour under the command of a former Jordanian artillery officer, Mohammed Said Musa Maragha: under his nom de guerre, Abu Musa, he would gain notoriety seven years later as one of the leaders of a bloody mutiny against Arafat's leadership.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Christians in The Muslim World. Lebanon: When pain leads to solidarity and not only vengeance Oasis, Feb 9, 2008.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Lebanon's long forgotten massacre | by XXVII.IV | Medium. Jan 20, 2019. Back then the Palestinian militias sparked the beginning of a long destructive civil war. The Palestinian armed militants led by Yaser Arafat aimed to cleanse the south from its inhabitants whom were opposing the oppressive Palestinian military presence and Arab nationalism... Palestinian militiamen taking celebratory pictures after taking over The Damour.  Arafat once stated that “the road to Jerusalem goes through Jounieh.”
  8. 8.0 8.1 Robert A. Burke, "Counter-Terrorism for Emergency Responders," (2017), p. 285. The PLO and Lebanese National Movement attacked the Christian town of Damour, killing 684 civilians and forcing the remainder of the town's population to flee.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mordechai Nisan: The Conscience of Lebanon: A Political Biography of Etienne Sakr (Abu-Arz), (Routledge, 2004), p. 158

    Appendix: The Massacres and Crimes Committed by the Palestinians and the Syrians Against the Lebanese (1975–90) [Note: This is not a complete list.] 

    • 20 May 1975: Palestinians from the Tel el-Zaater camp attacked the Dekkwaneh neighborhood in East Beirut killing tens of civilians.

    • 10 September 1975: The Christian village of Deir Ashash in the north of Lebanon was attacked, with the slaughter of three very elderly priests and forcing inhabitants from their homes.

    • 11 September 1975: The Christian village of Beit Mallat was attacked, leaving seven people killed while ten were kidnapped.

    • 9 October 1975: The Christian village of Tal Abbas in the northern Akkar region was attacked with 15 people killed. A local church was set alight.

    • 30 October 1975: The village of Naameh was attacked and tens of civilians were killed. (In 1948 the convents of Naameh sheltered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.)

    • 13–15 January 1976: The Christian towns of Damour and Jiyya south of Beirut were attacked. Initially 50 civilians were slaughtered in Damour, among which was the entire Canaan family. Executions of people followed and the cemetery was excavated. More than 300 inhabitants were killed and the churches were vandalized. Women were raped and little children hacked to death.

    • 15 January 1976: Palestinians assaulted Kab Elias, a Christian-Muslim village in the Bekka. Sixteen Christians were killed and 23 injured. The exodus of Christians to Zahle, East Beirut and Jouniya began.

    • 19 January 1976: The village of Hosh Barada in the Bekka was attacked and destroyed. Tens of residents were executed.

    • 21 January 1976: The Christian town of Damour was still under assault, 260 more people were massacred. (582 people in total.) 

    • 10 March 1976: The al-Khiam barracks in southern Lebanon were attacked, and more than 30 Lebanese soldiers were executed.

    • 16 May 1976: Edward Saab, chief editor of L'Orient-Le Jour, was assassinated.

    • 31 May 1976: The Syrians invaded Lebanon by openly employing their army, attacking the Akkar region, sacking towns and villages, killing over 50 civilians.

    • 1 June 1976: American Ambassador Francis E.Meloy, Jr. was assassinated in Beirut along with his Economic Assistant and Lebanese driver.

  10. G. Prepared Statement by Colonel Sharbel Barakat: Religious Persecution in the Middle East: Faces of the Persecuted: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, One Hundred Fifth Congress, First Session, May 1 and June 10, 1997, Vol. 4. U. S. Government Staff, United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs,U.S. Government Printing Office, 1998, p.119 ; Senate Hearing: Barakat

    Since 1975, about 150,000 Christians were killed during the war. Thousands of Lebanese Muslims died as well. Entire Christian villages were erased and their populations were ethnically cleansed.  In Damur (south of Beirut), for example, a thousand Christian civilians were killed while the armed bands shouted "Allahu Akbar" and "Jihad" (Holy war slogans) Churches were burned down by dozens. An account of the horrors is too long to include in this testimony.

    Here are few examples of massacres: 1975: Belt Mellat, Deir Eshash Tall Abbas (north Lebanon), Damur (Mount Lebanon) 1976: Chekka (north Lebanon), Qaa, Terbol (Bekaa valley) 1977: Aishye (south Lebanon), Maaser el-Shuf (Shuf Mountain) 1978: Ras Baalbeck, Shleefa (Bekaa valley) 1983: Major massacres in Aley, and the Shuf mountains. Ia addition to the 241 U.S. Marines and 78 French paratroopers savagely assassinated by Hizbollah 1984: Iqlim el-Kharrub (Mourn Lebanon) 1985: East Sidon (South Lebanon)

    1990: Matn district
  11. Samuel M. Katz (1985). Armies in Lebanon. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85045-602-8. 
  12. Frank Brenchley (1989). Britain and the Middle East: Economic History, 1945-87. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-870915-07-6. 
  13. (2008) Syria & Lebanon. Ediz. Inglese. Lonely Planet. ISBN 978-1-74104-609-0. 
  14. Charbel Hage (@CharbelHage12) Tweeted: #Israel in 2021 is the victim of #Palestinian terrorism... #Lebanon was in the 70’s and 80’s. We still remember Palestinian #massacres of innocent #Maronite #civilians in Damour, Lebanon. #PalestinianTerrorism #IranTerrorism #wewillneverforget [4] May 8, 2021
  15. Arafat’s Massacre of Damour, Joseph Hobeika, Canada Free Press, Jan 2, 2009.
  16. Alan M. Tigay (1980). "Myths and Facts 1980: A Concise Record of the Arab-Israeli Conflict." p. 153.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Eliyahu Tal, "PLO," (1982) p. 46
  18. 18.0 18.1 Lebanon's Legacy of Political Violence: A Mapping of Serious Violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Lebanon, 1975-2008 14, 15.
  19. Fisk, 2001, pp. 99–100.
  20. Elie Hobeika. moreorless : heroes & killers of the 20th century. www.moreorless.au.com.
  21. Friedman, 1998, p. 161.
  22. Friedman, New York Times, Sep 20, 21, 26, 27, 1982.
  23. Israel undercover: secret warfare and hidden diplomacy in the Middle East By Steve Posner, ISBN 0-8156-0220-0, ISBN 978-0-8156-0220-0, p. 2
  24. J. Becker: The PLO: The Rise and Fall of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1984, p. 124 [5] qtd in [6] [7]
  25. Genocides, Crimes and Massacres Committed by the PLO and the Syrians Against the Lebanese (1975-2002). By Jason Michael Blacksmith on Tuesday, January 21, 2014.
  26. Some sources name the Palestine Liberation Army Ayn Jalout brigade armed by Egypt and the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah brigade from Iraq. This page this page also mentions the Yarmouk brigade, set up by Syria.
  27. Brian Lee Davis (January 1, 1990). Qaddafi, Terrorism, and the Origins of the U.S. Attack on Libya. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-275-93302-9. 
  28. Nisan, 2003, p. 41.
  29. Anderson, N. (2019). NOC Twice: More UK Non-Official Cover Operations. (n.p.): MIURA!. pp. 111-112.

    "The main rabbit (target of surveillance) is a nasty little chap called Zuheir Muhsin, or Zuhayr Muhsin, depending how you'd pronounce and spell it. Age 43, he's the ex-head of Syrian-founded Al-Saiqa — The Thunderbolt to you — The murder squad of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization). Also likes to be known as the 'Butcher of Damour.'

    The guy's responsible for quite a large number of hits, but chiefly the massacre of hundreds of Lebanese Christians in January 1976. If you you must know how despicable this cunt is, he likes to slice his victims' p__ises off and shove them in their mouths – dead or alive."
  30. A Leader of P.L.O. Shot in France, The New York Times, July 26, 1979. CANNES, France, July 25 (AP) — Zuheir Mohsen, military operations chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization and head of the Syrian‐supported As saiqa guerrilla faction, was shot in the head last night as he approached the door of an apartment in this Riviera city, the police reported oday.
  31. Jillian Becker (2014). "The PLO." p. 155. The commander of the combined forces which descended on Damour on 23 January 1976 was Zuhayr Muhsin, chief of al-Sa'iqa, known since then throughout Christian Lebanon as 'the Butcher of Damour'. He was assassinated on 15 July 1979 at Cannes in the South of France.
  32. Prof. Murray Kahl, Yasir Arafat and the Christians of Lebanon INN, 13 January 2002. Although the main 'Butcher of Damour,' Saiqa commander Zuhayr Muhsin, was assassinated in Cannes, France in 1979, the PLO leader whose legions were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Christians in Lebanon, Yasser Arafat, is still alive to bemoan the fact that Israel prevented him from attending Christmas services in Bethlehem.
  33. Myths&Facts Online - Israel and Lebanon JVL
  34. Viewpoint. Inside Lebanon: A Minister's View. Sumter Daily Item - Jan 29, 1983

    ... The PLO came to Lebanon 12 years ago, after it was evicted from Jordan by King Hussein, that "Black September" in 1970, Hussein's troops killed 10,000 PLO fighters in the expulsion from Jordan of these terrorists which were an increasing threat to the stability of his government. Eight years ago, in 1974, war broke out in Lebanon, as the PLO attempted to wrest this ancient country from its own people. From 1974 to 1982, over 100,000 people were killed in Lebanon by the PLO, half a million were injured, and one million were left homeless, without any significant world objection. The PLO siege of Lebanon, which has been incorrectly portrayed as a civil war, was in fact a reign of terror, during which anyone who refused to cooperate with the PLO was forcibly evicted from his home, watched his wife and daughters raped and mutilated, was tortured and killed, or perhaps just quietly disappeared. The Lebanese people — both Moslem and Christian — were prisoners within their own country. In additions to the systematic terrorization of Lebanon, the PLO over the past eight years has repeatedly shelled the northern area of Israel, crossed the Israeli border in attacks on civilian people, and from Beirut directed attacks on Israeli diplomats and offices throughout the world, the most recent being the attempted assassination of Israel's ambassador to England, Shlome Argov. The people of Lebanon were fed up with the situation, and some of the several Lebanese factions, mainly Christian, appealed to Israel for assistance, Israel, equally fed up with the constant endangerment of the population of the Galilee, concurred, and in early July of this year the Israeli Army entered South Lebanon.

    ... We saw the PLO headquarters in Sidon, built near the town square, but underground, beneath a large and popular amusement park (complete with ferris wheel and roller coaster), "hiding beneath the skirts of women." We saw the Moslem hospital which the PLO used as an armament depot, marking their crates of live ammunition with the symbol of the Palestine Red Crescent (the local version of the Red Cross, and whose chairman is the brother of Yassar Arafat; most of the tragically inflated statistics on civilian casualties in Lebanon were provided by the Palestine Red Crescent issued without confirmation by the International Red Cross, which has since discovered how it was manipulated and has issued a formal retraction of the civilian casualty statistics). We talked with young men and old men in the streets of Sidon, candidly and happily. They told us how glad they are to have the Israeli army come in, how their freedom has been restored after eight years. They called the Israeli army "the army of liberation." Nowhere could we find a dissenting opinion.

    We were on a hill at the end of the Beirut airport, looking over West Beirut, where the Israeli army estimates that 9,000 PLO terrorists are holding several more thousand Lebanese civilians as hostages. The Israeli army a few days ago asked those civilians who wished to leave West Beirut to come to the beach to be picked up; on their way to the beach, the PLO killed all those citizens, denouncing them as traitors.

    ... We drove back south, to the Maronite (Greek Catholic) village of Damour. Once a village of 40.000 Christians, they massacred over 10,000 of the citizens, and drove the rest out of the village. The village was taken over as a PLO barracks.

Bibliography

  • Abraham, A. J. (1996). The Lebanon War. Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-95389-0
  • Fisk, Robert. (2001). Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280130-9
  • Friedman, Thomas. (1998) From Beirut To Jerusalem. 2nd Edition. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-653070-2
  • Nisan, M. (2003). The Conscience of Lebanon: A Political Biography of Etienne Sakr (Abu-Arz). London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-5392-6.

Further reading

  • Becker, Jillian. (1985). The PLO: The Rise and Fall of the Palestine Liberation Organization . New York: St. Martin's Press ISBN 0-312-59379-1

External links