I Was on Duty During the Sabra and Chatila Massacre. Here's What Happened

The experiences of the intelligence officer of the Israel Defense Forces division that oversaw the entry of Christian Phalangists into Beirut's Sabra and Chatila refugee camps reveal what went on behind the scenes in September 1982 – and what led him to tell ‘the truth but not all the truth’ to the commission of inquiry

A Palestinian woman with helmets she said were worn by perpetrators of the Sabra and Chatila massacre, at a memorial service in Beirut for its victims, September 27, 1982.
A Palestinian woman with helmets she said were worn by perpetrators of the Sabra and Chatila massacre, at a memorial service in Beirut for its victims, September 27, 1982.Credit: Bill Foley / AP
Yossi Ben Ari
Yossi Ben Ari

We were supposed to spend that Rosh Hashanah at home. It was Tuesday, September 14, 1982, we were about to land at Lod Airport and we felt a sense of exultation. Our reserve division in the Israel Defense Forces had completed its mission: We’d successfully concluded the takeover of most of Beirut, the bulk of the Palestine Liberation Organization forces had been expelled from the city, Bashir Gemayel was about to become president of Lebanon. After three months of service, we were heading home to spend the holiday with our families.