Tall El Zaatar


In 1948, Palestinians established a refugee camp in Tel Za'tar, which is in central Lebanon, north of Beirut, near Nabʿa. In the mid 1970s the camp was the last remaining large Muslim community amidst a predominantly Christian area of north Lebanon and had an estimated population of 15,000. On June 22, 1976, one year into the Lebanese civil war between Muslims and Christians, Lebanese Christian militias besieged Tel Za'tar for 52 days.They launched over 70 attacks, and targeted the camp with massive artillery — s at a rate of three bombs per minute at times. They also used armoured tanks, as part of their massive campaign to expel the Palestinians from this territory. They aimed to kill Palestinians that were specifically associated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). 

The Tel Za'tar refugee camp fell to the Christian militias on August 12, 1976.They killed between 1,000 and 1,500 Palestinians. Some were executed immediately while others were kidnapped as they tried to flee to West Beirut. There is no distinction between those killed that were armed or those associated with the PLO and the Christian militia killed many civilians. Throughout these 52 days, many bodies were mutilated, and many women were raped. Most of the bodies were buried without the victim’s families somewhere in the area and have  never been recovered. This destruction of Tall al-Zaʿtar completed the partition of Lebanon during the Civil War;  all Muslims were now in the South and all Christians were in the North. There have been no legal investigations into the massacre. Dozens of parents still don't know the fate of their children.


The destruction created by the shelling, Tal el Zaatar, 1976, Alchetron
The destruction created by the shelling, Tal el Zaatar, Alchetron, 1976


The fall of the Palestinian camp of Tel al-Zaatar, Sept 1976, Philippe Rochot
The fall of the Palestinian camp of Tel al-Zaatar,Philippe Rochot, September 1976


Remote video URL
Siege of Tal el Zaatar, Wattan News Agency, September 1976.