the Bush administration has articulated a Mideast policy predicated on
fighting terrorism, examining the pedigree of Ariel Sharon, Bush's "man of
peace," is a task that requires some attention.
And what you find is a man drenched in blood.
Qibya is a small West Bank village not far from the Israeli border. In
October, 1953, the Jewish state decided to attack Qibya in revenge for
killings by infiltrators whom the Israelis thought might have come from that
hamlet. Sharon was chosen to lead the mission.
Noted Israeli historian Benny Morris has unearthed the order Sharon gave his
troops: "maximal killing and damage to property." 
And maximal killing is what Sharon and his commando unit brought to Qibya on
the night of October 14, 1953. Their attack left 70 dead.
The Arab Legion investigated and determined that the Israelis had moved from
house to house "systematically killing" the residents before blowing up
their homes.  This account, Morris says, is corroborated
by Israel Defense Forces post-operational reports, which describe breaking
into most of the houses and "clearing them" with fire and grenades.
A United Nations report suggests an even more grisly sequence:
"Bullet-riddled bodies near the doorways and multiple bullet hits on the
doors of the demolished houses," the document says, "indicated that the
inhabitants had been forced to remain inside until their homes were blown up
over them." 
Commander E.H. Hutchison, a U.S. naval officer serving on the U.N. armistice
monitoring commission, investigated the slaughter. "Here and there from
between the rocks," he wrote, "you could see a tiny hand or foot
Every fall in Qibya during the olive harvesting season, the memory of the
attack is kept alive in a mourning ceremony. A memorial plaque behind the
village mosque honors Sharon's victims. 
Sharon later claimed he thought the villagers had fled, leaving the houses
This isn't possible, historian Morris concludes. Rather, the Israeli troops
"in moving through the village, had indiscriminately thrown grenades through
windows, knocked down doors, and sprayed the interiors with automatic fire."
Maximal killing indeed.
Sharon later described his order for "maximal killing" as referring only to
the Jordanian military then controlling the West Bank. "Of course, this is
misleading nonsense," is Morris' retort. "The order was to kill as many
Arabs as possible, without any discrimination between civilians, National
Guardsmen, and soldiers." 
Morris observes that prior Israeli retaliatory strikes, like this one, were
explicitly designed to kill civilians. 
Now, Benny Morris is no fan of the Palestinians. He's a committed Zionist
who lately has taken to co-authoring commentaries with former Israeli prime
minister Ehud Barak. 
And Qibya was no aberration for Ariel Sharon. A 1985 Israeli biography,
Sharon: An Israeli Caesar by Uzi Benziman,  describes
two earlier incidents in which Sharon honed his murderous instincts.
He killed two women from the Arab village of Katama in order to induce a
Jordanian military response.  Later, in a raid on the
el-Burj refugee camp, his plan called for trapping the Palestinians in a
lethal crossfire between two groups of soldiers.
The plan worked: 15 refugees were killed. 
Benziman, the biographer, describes Sharon's consistently sadistic behavior
toward Arabs: His men "witnessed him laughing as a junior officer tormented
an old Arab and then shot him at close range; they noted his composure as he
planned operations designed to kill as many civilians as possible; they
carried out his intricate plan to trap a peaceful Bedouin boy shepherding
his flock." 
On another occasion, Sharon censured a junior officer for failing to kill
two elderly Arabs encountered during a raid. 
Such censure wasn't often necessary, though, because Sharon's soldiers--like
their leader--had come to view the Arabs, as a whole, as the enemy.
The culmination of Sharon's vision was Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon,
when he was Minister of Defense. Over 20,000 people--overwhelmingly
In the most gruesome episode of that ghastly affair, Israeli troops, having
encircled the West Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla, stood by as
Lebanese Phalangists spent 40 hours massacring the inhabitants.
Israel says 700-800 died , but an investigation by
Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk suggests the toll was 3000-3500.
According to Benziman, Israeli army intelligence knew of the slaughter
shortly after it started. They didn't bother to stop the killing.
Ariel Sharon is a man defined by his contempt for the value of Arab life,
his absolute trust in military force, and his vision of peace through
is a freelance writer and activist based in New Orleans. To read more of
Robin’s work and to find links to web resources on the Palestinian struggle,
visit her website:
1. Benny Morris, Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956, Oxford,
U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 259. The Qibya affair is extensively
discussed on pp. 257-276.
2. Morris, p. 261.
3. Morris, p. 262.
4. Morris, p. 261, note 91.
5. Morris, p. 261, note 91.
Flore de Préneuf, "An Eye for an Eye," Salon.com, February 6, 2001.
7. Morris, p. 262.
8. Morris, p. 259, note 87.
9. Morris, p. 259, note 86.
See Benny Morris, Camp David and After: An Exchange (An Interview with Ehud
Barak), The New York Review of Books, June 13, 2002; and
Benny Morris and Ehud Barak, Camp David and After--Continued, The New York
Review of Books, June 27, 2002.
11. London: Robson Books, 1987. First published in 1985 by Adam Publishers
in Tel Aviv. Benziman, who was then an editor at the Israeli newspaper
Ha'aretz, writes, as does Morris, as a firm supporter of Israel.
12. Benziman, p. 39.
13. Benziman, p. 49.
14. Benziman, pp. 56-57.
15. Benziman, p. 73.
16. Benziman, p. 56.
17. Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the
Palestinians, Boston: South End Press, 1999 updated ed., p. 221 (as of late
December, 19,085 had been killed, 84% of them civilians, according to
Lebanese police). Since this figure included only bodies that passed through
hospitals and other centers, the true total must be much higher. Chomsky, p.
18. For extensive information, see the
International Campaign for Justice for the Victims of Sabra and Shatila.
19. See the report of Israel's
20. See Amnon Kapeliouk, Sabra and Shatila: Inquiry into a Massacre,
Belmont, MA: AAUG Inc., 1984.
21. Benziman, p. 264.