- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2006

BEIRUT — As friends and supporters of Ariel Sharon pray for the Israeli prime minister’s recovery from a massive stroke, they are joined by survivors of Beirut’s 1982 Palestinian refugee camp massacres — but for a very different reason.

“I want to see him recover so that we can charge him with crimes,” said Hamad Shamus, 43, who still walks with a limp from wounds suffered in the notorious attacks on the Sabra and Shatila camps.

The disabling of the one-time Israeli hard-liner has dismayed many of his former enemies, who had come to see him as the best hope for a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been widely quoted calling him a “man of peace.”

But time has not diminished the bitterness among those who were living in Sabra and Shatila when the right-wing Lebanese Phalangist militia stormed through, killing hundreds of men, women and children, while Israeli troops stood guard outside.

It was never proven that Mr. Sharon knew what was happening inside the camps, but an Israeli investigation found him indirectly responsible, which forced him to step down as defense minister. And among the Palestinians who live in the camps, there is no doubt about his personal culpability.

“I wanted him to die, until I heard he would be handicapped,” said Abu Khalil, a 46-year-old survivor of the massacres. “Now I pray for him to suffer as a cripple as he crippled the people of Sabra and Shatila. …

“We cannot forget what he did to us, and we will never forgive,” he continued. “I wish he would live, so we could see him tried in The Hague for a war crime.”

Mr. Shamus sat during the weekend close to his family home near the entrance to the Shatila camp, where he, his father and his brother were among the first to be accosted when members of the Phalangist militia entered the camp in September 1982.

The Phalange had been fighting the Palestine Liberation Organization and its Lebanese Muslim and Druze allies since 1975, and was looking to avenge the death of their leader, Bashir Gemeyal, just days earlier in a still-unsolved car bombing.

“They put all of us against the wall by our home and shot us,” Mr. Shamus recalled with little emotion. “Me, my father, my brother and a family of Lebanese Shi’ites from next door. I was shot three times.” He pointed to the side of his head, his right hip and left leg.

“My father and brother were dead. One Lebanese man with us lived for an hour before he gave up and died. I lay there for three days listening to them kill the others. I prayed to God for myself and for my family,” he said. “I don’t know how I lived.”

Limping to a nearby memorial, where huge pictures depict the piles of bodies left behind by the Phalangists, he pointed to a picture of a woman wailing and waving her arms. “That is Milana Boutros al-Ha.”

He pointed to one of the bodies behind her. “That is my father, and that leg,” he pointed out again, “is that of my brother.”

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