NEW YORK -Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international watch dog body, issued a statement Sunday, stressing that Sharon “died without facing justice for his role in the massacres of hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians by Lebanese militias in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982.”
Sharon escaped accountability for other alleged abuses, such as his role expanding settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, prosecutable as a war crime, it said. Sharon ordered the removal of all Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and from four West Bank settlements in 2005, but the overall number of settlers in occupied territory increased significantly during his term as prime minister.
“It’s a shame that Sharon has gone to his grave without facing justice for his role in Sabra and Shatilla and other abuses,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “His passing is another grim reminder that years of virtual impunity for rights abuses have done nothing to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace any closer.”
Sharon, as Israel’s defence minister in 1982, had overall responsibility for the Israel Defence Forces, which controlled the area of the Sabra and Shatilla camps. An Israeli commission of inquiry found that he bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre and that he decided Phalangist militias “should be sent in” to the camps from September 16 to 18, despite the risk that they would massacre the civilian population there.
On September 15, 2005, former President Pervez Musharraf and Sharon shook hands at the United Nations that the Pakistani leader described as a chance encounter. The handshake followed a landmark meeting between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Israel in Turkey in the same month, the first formal high-level contact between the Islamic and Jewish states.
But Musharraf played down the significance of the meeting. “I was standing and he came in a group and shook hands with me - he asked me how I was, I asked him how he was. That’s very good,” Musharraf told reporters with a smile, after initially evading questions about the meeting.