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Situation au Liban - Rapport du Secrétaire général
18 September 1982
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL IN PURSUANCE
OF SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 520 (1982)
1. This report is submitted in pursuance of Security Council resolution 520 (1982) adopted at 1920 hours (New York time) on 17 September 1982, in which the Council asked the Secretary-General to keep informed of developments as soon as possible and not later than 24 hours after the adoption of the resolution.
2. Immediately after the adoption of resolution 520 (1982), I cabled its text to the Foreign Minister of Israel with a request that the latter should send to me before 2000 hours GMT on 18 September 1982 information on action taken or envisaged by the Government of Israel to implement that resolution, as well as any other relevant information. I also instructed General Erskine, the Chief of Staff UNTSO, to follow-up this request with the Israeli authorities. Should the Israeli authorities agree to co-operate on increasing the strength of the Observer Group Beirut (OGB), General Erskine was prepared to make immediate arrangements, in consultation with the Lebanese Government, to send additional observers to Beirut.
3. On morning of 18 September 1982, I received through the Chief of Staff of UNTSO the following message from the Israeli Foreign Ministry:
“Due to the Jewish New Year a formal response from the Government of Israel to the Security Council resolution could not be forthcoming within the time frame determined for the Secretary-General’s report. A senior Foreign Ministry official indicated however to the chief of Staff of UNTSO, General Erskine, that as previously announced, the presence of the IDF in West Beirut was of limited duration and did not, in any manner, limited the deployment of the Lebanese Army in any parts of Beirut. He reiterated that the government of Israel had instructed the IDF to evacuate its positions in West Beirut when the Lebanese Army was ready to assume control over them in co-ordination with the IDF. Discussions to that and between Israeli and Lebanese Army officers had been proposed by the Government of Israel and accepted by the Government of Lebanon. In these discussions, plans would be exchanged for the evacuation of the IDF from West Beirut.”
Subsequently, the following addendum to the above reply was received from the Israeli Foreign Ministry by UNTSO Jerusalem:
“Already, in the course of the day, these discussions resulted in several positions being handed over by the IDF to the Lebanese Army, including those in the street of the Banks. Also today, the IDF surrounded the camps, when it became aware of what had happened there during the night, so as to prevent repetition.”
4. Since that time I received, at 1640 hours, the following information from Ambassador Blum, the Permanent Representative of Israel:
“The IDF were deployed west of the camps and had left the access to the East open in the expectation that the Lebanese Army would enter the camps and take up positions as called for by the Habib plan. This did not happen. When the IDF found out, on the morning of 18 September, they surrounded the camps to protect the population.”
A second message received later from Ambassador Blum was as follows:
“An arrangement has been reached between the Israeli Defence forces and the Lebanese armed forces for the Lebanese armed forces to enter the three camps, that is, Fakhani, Sabra and shatila tomorrow morning (Sunday) at 1000 local time.”
5. On 18 September, United Nations observers of the Observer Group Beirut (OGB) reported as follows:
(a) During the day on 17 September, fighting in the Sabra Camp in the southern suburbs of Beirut was in progress and the presence of Kataeb units (which are the military branch of the Phalange Party) was observed at Bir Hassan, in the hospital and the airport areas, in the vicinity of Sabra Camp. Western Beirut was reported under IDF control around 1500 hours GMT on 17 September, with the exception of the Sabra Camp area.
(b) From 1600 to 1830 hours GMT on 17 September, very sporadic explosions were heard at an undetermined distance northwest of Yarze, where the OGB office is temporarily located. Four minutes before midnight GMT, flares were seen over the Sabra area.
(c) In the morning of 18 September, all of West Beirut was under IDF control. The presence of Kataeb units was again observed in Bir Hassan in the vicinity of Sabra Camp, as well as an estimated at least 1,000 Kataeb soldiers with tanks and vehicles in the airport area.
(d) Two teams of OGB observers reached the Sabra Camp at 0830 hours GMT and found many clusters of bodies of men, women and children in civilian clothes who appeared to have been massacred in groups of ten or twenty. The Sabra Camp is dominated by two IDF positions situated 2000 and 500 meters respectively west of the Camp. According to information received from the Lebanese Army, the units seen in the Bir Hassan, Sabra and airport areas were in fact Kataeb units mixed with Lebanese
forces coming from southern Lebanon.
(e) As of 1800 hours GMT on 18 September, IDF was deployed in and around Beirut, controlling the city with mechanized troops on the main axes and road functions as well as with infantry patrols. No IDF withdrawals had been observed south or west of the approximate line of separation of forces indicated in the report of 15 September (S/15382/Add.1., para. 4). The deployment of Lebanese Army internal security units also remained unchanged with some minor adjustments. Lebanese forces and Kataeb forces were manning checkpoints and were controlling traffic east and south of the approximate line of separation. However, the forces that had been observed in the airport area during the morning were no longer there at 1800 hours GMT. No local armed elements (LNM, AMAL, Mourabitoun) were observed west or north of the approximate line of separation of forces.
(f) During the period under review, OGB observers continued to enjoy substantial freedom of movement. Their strength stood unchanged at ten.
6. Upon receiving the first work of the events that had occurred during the night, I directed the United Nations spokesman to issue the following statement on my behalf: “The secretary-General has heard with shock and horror the reports of the killing of civilian in west Beirut. He once again calls urgently to end the violence”.
7. I subsequently received a visit by the Permanent Representatives of France, Italy and the United States, who handed to me a statement urging the immediate dispatch of United Nations observers to the sites of the greatest human suffering and losses in and around Beirut. I was also informed by the Permanent Representative of Lebanon that his government concurred with this request.
8. As early as 13 June 1982 I had recommended that the strength of the United Nations observers in the Beirut area should be increased from the present level of 10 Observers. I have kept the Security Council informed of the difficulties that have been encountered in giving effect to this plan, which was also endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 516 (1982) of 1 August 1982.
9. I wish to assure the Council that the inability to increase the number of United Nations observers in Beirut has not been for lack of repeated efforts to get the necessary co-operation. The observers actually in Beirut co-operated to the maximum of their capacity with the multinational force while it was present in Beirut and have continued, since its departure, to provide us, within their limited means, with as much first-hand information as possible. I wish to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to these gallant officers.
10. Immediately after the visit of the three Permanent Representatives, I instructed General Erskine to make a renewed approach to the Israeli authorities with a view to obtaining their co-operation in increasing the number of United Nations observers in Beirut. In this connexion, the Members of the Council will have noted that the present United Nations observers reached the scene of the killings in Beirut at 0830 hours GMT in the morning of 18 September and have been reporting about the situation.
11. However, it seems to me that in the present situation unarmed military observers, however, courageous or numerous, are not enough.
12. I think it is also well noting that in the UNIFIL area in the South conditions have remained quit and UNIFIL has successfully prevented the harassment of the civilian population by any armed groups.