Ariel Sharon was born on 27 February 1928 in Kfar Malal in the Negev. He is a well known figure in both political and military spheres, and was Minister of Defence at the time the events occurred.
On 6 June 1982, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon as part of an operation called “Peace in Galilee”. The Israeli forces made rapid progress and soon reached Beirut.
On 11 September 1982, Ariel Sharon declared that “2000 terrorists” remained inside Palestinian camps close to Beirut. On 15 September, on the day following the assassination of Bashir Gemayel – the then recently elected Lebanese President, who was also the leader of the Phalangist militias allied with Israel -, the Israeli army occupied west Beirut. The Sabra and Shatila camps, occupied by Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, were surrounded and cut off from the outside world by the Israeli forces.
On 16 September, a unit of around 150 Lebanese Phalangists entered the camps. Up until 18 September, numerous civilians, including women and children, were badly abused, injured, raped and killed. According to some sources, 800 to 1500 people, possibly even more, were murdered by the Phalangists.
As a result of these events, Israel set up an official Commission of Inquiry headed by Yitzhak Kahan, a Supreme Court judge. On 7 February 1983, the Commission concluded on the culpability of the Lebanese Christian militias, and found Ariel Sharon to be indirectly responsible for not having foreseen the tragedy which would arise from the entry of the Phalangists into the two Palestinian camps. As a result, Ariel Sharon resigned from his post as Minister of Defence.