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Damour massacre
Part of the Lebanese Civil War
Location Damour, Lebanon
Date January 20, 1976 (cc)
Attack type
Deaths 150[1]-582 civilians[2]
Perpetrators Palestine Liberation Organization, Lebanese National Movement
Motive Retaliation for Karantina massacre

The Damour massacre took place on January 20, 1976, during the 1975–1990 Lebanese Civil War. Damour, a Christian town on the main highway south of Beirut, was attacked by the Palestine Liberation Organisation units. Part of its population died in battle or in the massacre that followed, and the remainder were forced to flee.[3]


The Phalangist militia based in Damour and Dayr al Nama had been blocking the coastal road.[4] The Damour massacre was a response to the Karantina massacre of January 18, 1976, in which Phalangists killed from 300 up to 1,500 people.[5][6]

It occurred as part of a series of events during the Lebanese Civil War, in which Palestinians joined the Muslim forces,[7] in the context of the Christian-Muslim divide,[8] and soon Beirut was divided along the Green Line, with Christian enclaves to the east and Muslims to the west.[9]


Twenty Phalangist militiamen were executed, and then civilians were lined up against a wall and sprayed with machine-gun fire. None of the remaining inhabitants survived.[10] An estimated 582 civilians died.[2] Among the killed were family members of Elie Hobeika and his fiancé.[11] Following the Battle of Tel al-Zaatar later the same year, the PLO resettled Palestinian refugees in Damour. After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the Zaatar refugees were expelled from Damour, and the original inhabitants brought back.[12] According to Thomas L. Friedman, the Phalangist Damouri Brigade, which carried out the Sabra and Shatila massacre during the 1982 Lebanon War sought revenge not only for the assassination of Bashir Gemayel, but also for what he describes as past tribal killings of their own people by Palestinians, including those at Damour.[13][14]

According to an eyewitness, the attack took place from the mountain behind the town. "It was an apocalypse," said Father Mansour Labaky, a Christian Maronite priest who survived the massacre. "They were coming, thousands and thousands, shouting 'Allahu Akbar! (God is great!) Let us attack them for the Arabs, let us offer a holocaust to Mohammad!', and they were slaughtering everyone in their path, men, women and children."[15][16][17][18]


The attack and subsequent massacre was carried out by a mixed crew of Palestinian militiamen aligned with the Lebanese National Movement (LNM).[citation needed]

According to journalist and author Robert Fisk, the attack was led by Colonel Abu Musa, a senior commander of the PLO and Fatah, and later leader of the anti-Arafat Fatah Uprising faction. names Zuheir Mohsen, leader of as-Sa'iqa, a Damascus-based Palestinian faction operating directly on Syrian orders, and claims that he was known in Lebanon as the "Butcher from Damour".

The bulk of the attacking forces seems to have been composed of brigades from the Palestinian Liberation Army[19] and as-Sa'iqa, as well as other militias, including Fatah. Some sources also mention the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and the Muslim Lebanese al-Murabitun militia among the attackers. There are reports that PLO forces were additionally joined by militiamen from Syria, Jordan, Libya,[20] Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and possibly even Japanese Red Army terrorists who were then undergoing training by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Lebanon.[21]

See also


  1. Hirst, David (2010). Beware of small states. Nation Books. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-571-23741-8. "With Palestinian help, the Muslim/lefitsts then overran Damour, in their domain, on the coastal road a few kilometres south of the capital, sacked it, killed some 150 inhabitants, and drove out the rest." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nisan, 2003
  3. Armies in Lebanon, 1985, Osprey Publishing
  4. Yezid Sayigh (1999) Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949–1993 Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-829643-6 p 368
  5. William W. Harris (January 2006). The New Face of Lebanon: History's Revenge. Markus Wiener Publishers. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-55876-392-0. Retrieved July 27, 2013. "the massacre of 1,500 Palestinians, Shi'is, and others in Karantina and Maslakh, and the revenge killings of hundreds of Christians in Damour" 
  6. Noam Chomsky, Edward W. Said (1999) Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians South End Press, ISBN 0-89608-601-1 pp 184–185
  7. Samuel M. Katz (1985). Armies in Lebanon. Osprey Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-85045-602-8. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  8. Frank Brenchley (1989). Britain and the Middle East: Economic History, 1945-87. I.B.Tauris. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-870915-07-6. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  9. Terry John Carter; Lara Dunston; Amelia Thomas (2008). Syria & Lebanon. Ediz. Inglese. Lonely Planet. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-74104-609-0. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  10. Fisk, 2001, pp. 99–100.
  11. "Elie Hobeika". moreorless : heroes & killers of the 20th century. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  12. Helena Cobban (8). "Back to Shatila, part 2". Just World News. Just World News. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  13. Friedman, 1998, p. 161.
  14. Friedman, New York Times, Sep 20, 21, 26, 27, 1982.
  15. Israel undercover: secret warfare and hidden diplomacy in the Middle East By Steve Posner, ISBN 0-8156-0220-0, ISBN 978-0-8156-0220-0, p. 2
  16. J. Becker: The PLO: The Rise and Fall of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1984, p. 124 [1] qtd in [2] [3]
  17. "Articles > PLO Policy towards the Christian Community during the Civil War in Lebanon". ICT. Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  18. The PLO: The Rise and Fall of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1984, p. 124 [4] qtd in [5] [6]
  19. Some sources name the PLA's Ayn Jalout brigade armed by Egypt and the Qadisiyah brigade from Iraq. This page also mentions the Yarmouk brigade, set up by Syria.
  20. Brian Lee Davis (January 1, 1990). Qaddafi, Terrorism, and the Origins of the U.S. Attack on Libya. ABC-CLIO. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-275-93302-9. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  21. Nisan, 2003, p. 41.


  • Abraham, A. J. (1996). The Lebanon War. Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-95389-0
  • Fisk, Robert. (2001). Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280130-9
  • Friedman, Thomas. (1998) From Beirut To Jerusalem. 2nd Edition. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-653070-2
  • Nisan, M. (2003). The Conscience of Lebanon: A Political Biography of Etienne Sakr (Abu-Arz). London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-5392-6.

Further reading

  • Becker, Jillian. (1985). The PLO: The Rise and Fall of the Palestine Liberation Organization . New York: St. Martin's Press ISBN 0-312-59379-1

External links

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