41 years on, we honour the victims of the Israeli-sponsored massacre at Sabra and Shatila


On this day in 1982, under the oversight and control of the Israeli occupation forces, a fanatic, Israeli-backed Lebanese militia began a planned 3-day brutal massacre of several thousand Palestinian refugees, along with Lebanese civilians, in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in occupied Beirut. 

The majority of residents in the camps were Indigenous Palestinian refugee families who had been subjected to massacres, systematic ethnic cleansing and dispossession at the hands of Zionist militias and later the State of Israel in what became to be known as the 1948 Nakba.

Today, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian society leading the global BDS movement, honours the memory of the thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese murdered during the Sabra and Shatila massacre. We call for holding Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid accountable for this and other brutal crimes.

This massacre is a stark reminder of Israel’s ongoing violent displacement of Indigenous Palestinians and its denial of our refugees’ right of return. 


The Sabra and Shatila massacre took place during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, whose principal aim was to crush the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) based there. 

On 16 September 1982, Israeli forces, under then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, imposed a tight siege on the camps to facilitate the entry of the Israeli-backed fascist Lebanese Phalange militia. Israel over the years had provided arms, training and military assistance to the Phalange. 

Once Palestinian and Lebanese civilians were sealed inside the camp, over the course of three days, 16 – 18 September 1982, thousands of Palestinian refugees and Lebanese civilians were violently raped, mutilated and tortured. Up to 3,500 were savagely slaughtered under the oversight of the Israeli occupation forces. 

Today, approximately 479,000 Palestinian refugees are registered with the UN in Lebanon, with approximately 45% living in the country’s 12 refugee camps. Palestinian refugees worldwide are to this day denied their UN stipulated right of return under UN Resolution 194.


In 1982, following the Sabra and Shatila massacre, the 37th session of the United Nations General Assembly, #UNGA37, called for sanctions against Israel. Today, #UNGA78 should re-activate the UN Special Committee on Apartheid, which had been created as an effective tool to end apartheid in South Africa, and impose targeted and lawful sanctions, including a military embargo, to help dismantle apartheid.  

Since July, over 300 civil society organisations worldwide have joined the call demanding the UN to investigate, and take effective action to end, Israeli apartheid. The UN must heed the Palestinian-led call for freedom, justice and equality.

We call on civil society organisations everywhere to support this initiative. Will your organization sign next

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