On September 16, 1982, the fighters of the Phalange (a Maronite Christian militia group in Lebanon allied at that time with Israel
) entered Sabra (a neighborhood in south Beirut housing Palestinian
refugees) and Shatila (a Palestinian refugee camp near Sabra) to seek revenge for the assassination of their leader Bashir Gemayel two days prior. Both Sabra and Shatila were guarded at that time by the Israeli
army, who was briefly occupying Beirut during its 1982 War, and who permitted the Phalange militiamen to enter the camps. A slaughter of the civilians in Sabra and Shatila ensued until September 18, with fatality estimates ranging from 700-3,500 people. Eyewitness reports include evidence of mass rape and mutilations. When news of the massacres became public, an estimated 400,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv, demanding an official inquiry. The Israeli government established the Kahan Commission, which found several Israeli officials indirectly responsible for the killings, including Ariel Sharon
, the Israeli Defense Minister, who was forced to resign as a result. See "Flashback: Sabra and Shatila massacres
," BBC, January 24, 2002.