Category Archives: Israel war-crimes in Lebanon

Massacre survivors want Sharon to suffer

Massacre survivors want Sharon to suffer

Cilina Nasser in Beirut, for Aljazeera 

Monday, 9 January 2006 

Nawal Abu Rodaina does not want Ariel Sharon to die. At least not yet.

Not before the Israeli prime minister is punished for his role in the massacre of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon more than 23 years ago.

Rodaina was only eight when Israeli-allied Lebanese Christian Phalange militiamen rampaged through the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, killing hundreds, possibly thousands of people at the height of Lebanon’s civil war that pitted various factions – including a sizeable Palestinian refugee population – against each other.

It was also soon after Israel’s invasion of the Lebanese capital in 1982.

No Palestinian fighters were found or handed over to Israeli forces and no weapons alleged to be in the camps were found.

Rodaina and her brother, Mohammed, survived. But 800-3500 others, depending on whose figures one takes, were killed, including women and children.

“Memories are etched so deeply in my mind that I can’t forget them for as long as I live,” says Nawal.

She blames Sharon for all her suffering and wants him held accountable.

“Sharon’s death won’t relieve me because he was not tried and punished for the crimes he committed against my family and the families of hundreds of other Palestinians like me,” she says.

Camps encircled

The massacres began three months after Israel invaded Lebanon and two days after Bashir Gemayel, the then Lebanese president, was assassinated.

On 15 September 1982, Israeli tanks and soldiers surrounded Sabra and Shatila, setting up checkpoints at strategic locations and crossroads around the camps to monitor the entry and exit of every person.

During the late afternoon and evening the camps were shelled. Israeli forces used flares at night to illuminate the area.

Mohammed, who was only five at the time, recalls: “I sat on my father’s lap and he held me very tightly to his chest throughout the shelling.”

The next day, 150 heavily armed Israeli-allied Christian Phalange fighters, who supported Gemayel, entered the camps of the Palestinian refugees.

Mohammed’s family had already moved to their uncle’s house, which they thought was safer since their home was located on the main street.

“My father was telling us not to be scared and that we would be fine. But there were gun shots and noises and we couldn’t help but cry, especially when the militiamen broke the windows of the house with their rifle butts,” Mohammed says.

He remembers how his father was optimistic that nothing bad would happen, until the armed men appeared at the door step.

“He knew that he was going to die,” Mohammed says.

“The Phalangists ordered the men to line up next to a wall just outside the house while the women and children were allowed to leave.”

Family killed

The last time Mohammed saw his father, Shawkat, was when the head of the family was lined up with nine other men against a wall in Shatila. He remembers how his father had to raise his hands, placing them on the wall shoulder-width apart.

As the little child walked hurriedly away through the narrow alleyways of the camp with his mother and sister, Nawal, they heard a loud burst of gunfire.

“I kept saying to myself, ‘Daddy must have escaped and he will come back for us’.”

After several days, however, Mohammed knew his father had not escaped.

Also killed were Mohammed’s pregnant sister, Amal Abu Rodaina, and her husband who lived 300m away from her parents’ home.

Her body was found split open with her unborn baby lying on her chest.

“Her Lebanese neighbour who survived told us that the militiamen were betting over the sex of the baby before killing her and removing the foetus,” Mohammed says.

Sharon’s role

Sharon, who is gravely ill after suffering a brain haemorrhage last week, was defence minister and the general of the Israeli army, which was in full control of Beirut at the time.

Sharon was found “indirectly responsible” by an Israeli commission investigating the massacre since his forces controlled the area and approved the entry of the Phalangists into the camps, ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge.

He was forced to step down.

Nawal, Mohammed and other families of the victims filed a lawsuit against him in Belgium a few years ago hoping that a Belgian anti-atrocity law would bring the perpetrators to justice.

But in June 2002, Brussels decided to amend the law from universal jurisdiction, limiting it to Belgian citizens.

“The Belgians should have stood by us because we are weak … but weak people have no rights,” Mohammed said at the time. “Justice is absent.”

Memories live on

Nevertheless, the memories live on and have been reawakened by news of Sharon’s failing health.

Mohammed still flips through a photo album of his once happy family and says he will always cherish the past.

“This is my father when he was on pilgrimage… This is my mother before she had a stroke… This is my sister who was pregnant when she was killed.”

Nawal and Mohammed’s mother had a stroke in the early nineties, just a day after she watched a documentary about the massacre aired on television to mark the event’s anniversary.

Although she was only a teenager at the time, Nawal had to take care of her ill mother, who died a year later.

She could hardly understand the words her mother uttered and had to change diapers for her after she was confined to bed and semi-paralysed.

“I hope Sharon will stay alive and suffer just like he made my mother suffer,” she says.

“No one should feel sad for him.”

Clusterb bombs: How they work

Franklin Lamb submitted the following paper on the design and effects of cluster bombs to the Commission on Inquiry on War Crimes by Israel in Lebanon.


1. The CBU-58
BLU-63/B, BLU63A/B, BLU-86/B, and BLU-86-A/B
The bombs are submunitions dispensed from the 7 foot long SUU-30 series air launched free fall dispenser. Together they are designated by the US Pentagon as the CBU-58/B. The bomb fuses arm by centrifugal force produced by air pressure against the flutes as the bombs fall away from the dispenser. The fuses require approximately 3,000 rpm to arm. The BLU-BLU-63/B (sic) and BLU-86/B detonate upon impact producing high velocity steel fragments. The BLU-86A/B and BLU 63A contain random delay fuses which may detonate from 0 to 30 minutes after impact or 0 to 120 minutes after impact depending upon the fuse used.

These bombs have been in existence for a considerable time, were used in the Vietnam War since the mid-1960’s and are a US Service item. They are always dispensed from some type of dispensing munition. The Pentagon has stated that CBU-58’s are no longer produced.
The CBU-58 systems is designed to carry 650 of the BL U-63 bomb lets or grenades, which are approximately 2.17 inches in diameter. The filled canister weighs 450 Ibs. The area covered by cluster bomb grenades varies depending upon several factors including dispenser load, altitude, wind conditions, etc. The CBU-58 system was designed by the US Pentagon primarily for use against light armoured vehicles, trucks, SAM sites and various types of radar.

2. The MK 20 ‘Rockeye’

The MK 118 is a Cluster Bomb submunition dispensed from the MK 20 ‘Rockeye’ cluster bomb. A MK 7 dispenser contains 247 of the submunitions, which are 8 inch dart type greandes. It weighs approximately 500 Ibs.
The MK 118 bomb fuse arms electrically and mechanically after release from the dispenser by rotation of the rotor blades attached to the base fuse element. The fuse contains a discriminating firing mechanism which functions upon impact with a hard target by the initiation of a small detonator in the nose element stressing a piezoelectric crystal to produce an electric current. The electric current detonates the base fuse element, thus detonating the main explosive charge. Detonation produces a shaped charge jet capable of penetrating 6 inch armour. Fragmentation from the body destroys anyone in the vicinity of the armoured vehicles or explosion.

Each of the 247 submunitions contains 1.1 lbs of high explosive inside a heavy-density casing. The grenade shrapnel explodes at speeds of 4,000 feet per second.
The MK 118 bombs have been in existence for a considerable time, were used widely in the Vietnam War, and are a US service item always used in the MK-20 CBU. The MK 20 has been provided to Israel through the US Foreign Military Sales program.


The M-42 Cluster Bomb is commonly referred to among the Lebanese and Palestinian population as the ‘battery’ bomb or ‘lighter’ bomb because of its shape. These M-42 grenades are dispensed from various sizes of projectiles which are initiated by mechanical time fuses above the target area to allow dispersion of grenades.

The M-42, as can be seen from the diagrams, has a white nylon ribbon which when pulled or touched can detonate.

Shortly after ejection from the projectile, artillery shell, or various sizes of container or dispenser, the M-42 grenade arms due to the rotation of the white nylon ribbon. This ribbon also acts as a stabilising tail to orient the cone of the grenade toward the target. Upon impact a charge in the grenade is launched downward to penetrate armour while the metal grenade body bursts into shrapnel-like fragments to wound and kill personnel. A dual effect in which the fragmenting grenade body rips through any humans in the vicinity of the detonation. The Pentagon designed the M-42 both to pierce armour and to destroy troops. The United States has provided large quantities of the M-42 cluster bomb units to Israel as well as other foreign countries through the US Foreign Military Sales Programme.

It was the M-42 CBU type which President Reagan suspended shipment of to Israel on 27 July 1982. In that particular shipment Israel was to receive 4,000 155mm howitzer .artillery shells each filled with 88 M-42 type cluster bombs. It was also the M-42 cluster bomb which killed US Marine Cpl David L. Reagan on 30 September 1982 while he was clearing cluster bombs from around the Beirut Airport.


This cluster bomb was known by the Lebanese and Palestinian population of Lebanon as the ‘Butterfly’ bomb.

A quantity of these grenades are dispensed from various sizes of projectiles which are initiated by mechanical time fuses above the target area to allow dispersion of the grenades.
The grenade arms shortly after ejection from the projectile and functions upon impact, causing the body to be ejected from the housing by ~ explosive ejection charge. This ignites a delay detonation to allow the body to travel approximately five feet above the ground before detonation of the main explosive charge.

Detonating of the main charge causes the prescored body to break up into uniform high velocity steel fragments which are extremely lethal.

The grenade is designed to be used against personnel or light material targets and has been in existence since the latter part of the Vietnam War. This type of weapon has been provided to Israel through the US Foreign Military Sales Programme.


All four types of cluster bomb grenades use a similar dispenser, either a 155mm howitzer artillery ‘cargo round’, a SUU-30 series air-launched free