Sepia Prints (2014 - Present)
Portraits of Denial & Desire Sepia

Sabra and Shatila. Digital Print. Sepia.
80 x 60 and 110 x 80 inches
John Halaka © 2015

Sabra and Shatila Memorial. 30th commemoration, September 2012.

One of the greatest tragedies, and there were many of them, during the 15 year Lebanese civil war, was the massacre at Sabra and Shatila in Beirut. The brutal slaughter by Lebanese phalange forces of Palestinian civilians in the Shatila refugee camp and the adjacent neighborhood of Sabra lasted two and half days and left somewhere between 1800 and 4000 women, children, as well as elderly and middle aged men tortured, killed and mutilated.

The massacre occurred a couple of weeks after U.S. envoy Philip Habib, brokered an agreement between the invading Israeli military, the Lebanese militia forces and the PLO in Lebanon.  The agreement required that Palestinian fighters leave Lebanon and move to Cyprus, and insured that the international community would guarantee the safety of the large Palestinian civilian refugee population that remained in Beirut. 

The Israeli military had invaded Lebanon all the way to Beirut in 1982 with the intention of finishing off the Palestinians.  Under the command of Arial Sharon, the Israeli military gave the Lebanese Phalange militia protected access to the Shatila Refugee Camp and to the bordering neighborhood of Sabra. Israeli officers and soldiers oversaw the slaughter from adjacent buildings and lit the night sky over the camp with flares to facilitate the two and half days of butchery.  The unprotected civilian Palestinian refugee population living in the densely packed refugee camp and its adjacent neighborhood, became victims of the slaughter that was perpetrated by Christian Phalange forces who served as a proxy militia for the Israeli military.