In an astonishing letter to the Palestinian survivors of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila camps massacres, nine Israeli wo-men's peace groups have told Palestinians in Beirut that they support their efforts to indict the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, for "war crimes'' committed against them almost exactly 20 years ago.
The women's letter, which was sent via the United States, has amazed the Lebanese lawyer representing the survivors of the massacre, for which Mr Sharon was held "personally responsible'' by an Israeli inquiry. "It is a wonderful gesture,'' Chibli Mallat said yesterday. "It is a wonderful message to receive in these very dangerous and violent times.''
The letter, from the Coalition of Women for A Just Peace in Israel, speaks movingly of the suffering of the Palestinians in 1982. "Our hearts ache to recall the terrible massacre that took place in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps 20 years ago, which Israeli leaders allowed to take place,'' it says. "We condemn the brutal murderers of your loved ones and we condemn the leaders who must be held accountable for these war crimes, Ariel Sharon above all.''
A Belgian court ruled earlier this year that it could not indict Mr Sharon for the killings, but more than 20 survivors of the massacre, whose lawyers include Mr Mallat, are now appealing against this decision.
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