Massaker: Retelling Sabra & Shatila

Twenty-three years after hacking to death Palestinian refugees, six Israeli-backed Lebanese Christian militiamen show no remorse recounting the massacre in a new chilling documentary.

“With hanging or shooting you just die, but this is double,” recalls one of the men, explaining how he took an old Palestinian and held him back against a wall, slicing him open in the shape of a cross.

“You die twice since you also die from the fear,” he says nonchalantly of the act, describing white flesh and bone.

German director Monika Borgmann’s film “Massaker” shows the six speaking out for the first time about their role in the Sabra and Shatila massacre during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. Though no definite figures are available, around 2,000 Palestinians were massacred inside the camps in September of 1982 by the Christian militia under the watchful eyes of their Israeli alley.

Unlike massacres in some other conflicts, the perpetrators of Sabra and Shatila have not been brought to justice. [article]

This seems like a very interesting film. I have seen only one film that documents the event but I cannot recall the name. Some of the most horrifying elements of the massacre was how the Israelis threw back the fleeing Palestinians and even fed the militia. It was like trapping civilians in a burning building. Ariel Sharon was sued once for being involved but the case was quickly dismissed. Many of these murderers are loose today.

One Review:

…They talk about their preparatory training in Israel with the Israeli Army, their allegiance to Lebanese Forces’ leader Bashir Gemayel and their response to his assassination just after he was elected Lebanon’s president. The talk about how they moved into the camps, tossed grenades into houses and sprayed rooms with gunfire and killed at close range.

They talk about one man, a butcher, who exercised his preference for the tactility of killing with a knife instead of a gun. They talk about another who, mid-massacre, picked up a young girl by the waist, raped her, dropped her on the ground and shot her in the head, saying afterward to anyone who was interested, “I needed a f***.” They talk about how they dumped dead bodies into a pit and tried to dispose of them with chemicals. As the minutes tick by, they talk and they talk and they talk.

Culling these 99 minutes from 60 hours of rushes, the filmmakers cut away the bulk of the massacre’s details and specificities to leave a spare but legible language of violence at the core of the film. Borgmann and Slim also made a deliberate choice – what they call their “politically incorrect approach” – in portraying the massacre from the perspective of the perpetrators, not the victims. In doing so, they shredded all the filters and mediating frameworks that might otherwise make their subjects palatable. [full]

The film was recently shown at the Dubai Film Festival. Hopefully I will get to see it soon if it’s ever released here.

Daily Star Article

1 Comment

  • My mom told me about it a few weeks ago. She heard an interview with the directors on the BBC. Tried finding it for her online but without any luck, though I found an interesting article in the Guardian if I recall correctly.

    It certainly would be an interesting watch, to see how they tackeld the whole issue.

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