Khalifeh and Kazzem Hasan, 55, both survivors of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre, recall the ordeal 34 years ago. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Jamileh Khalifeh will never forget that fateful Thursday evening 34 years ago when the tanks began rolling toward Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps on the outskirts of Beirut.In September 1982, she was just a young girl of 16 living in the camps with her parents, four sisters and a brother.Running through a string of homes to reach a shelter, Khalifeh and her family barely made it out.Following the Sept. 14 assassination of President-elect Bachir Gemayel, who was head of the Lebanese Forces and senior in the Kataeb Party, Israeli forces blockaded the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps and allowed the Kataeb affiliated Phalange militia inside. What followed was 72-hours of rampant rape and murder as the militia went building to building on a brutal killing spree as the Israeli forces stood watch over what would come to be known as the Sabra and Shatila massacre. At the time of the massacre, the camp was home to Syrians, Egyptians, Lebanese, as well as Palestinians.A week after the killing, Khalifeh returned to the camp. The camp is still the only home Khalifeh has ever known. Today, she lives with her husband and four children, not far from the childhood home that was witness to so much horror.
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