Following are excerpts from the conclusions of the judicial inquiry into the Beirut massacre as issued in English by the Israeli Government Press Office:
[On Prime Minister Menachem Begin:]
. . .We may certainly wonder that the participation of the Phalangists in the entry to West Beirut and their being given the task of "mopping up" the camps seemed so unimportant that the defense minister did not inform the prime minister of it and did not get his assent for the decision: however, that question does not bear on the responsibility of the prime minister. What is clear is that the prime minister was not a party to the decision to have the Phalangists move into the camps, and that he received no report about that decision until the Cabinet session on the evening of Sept. 16, 1982.
We do not believe that we ought to be critical of the prime minister because he did not on his own initiative take an interest in the details of the operation of the entry into West Beirut, and did not discover, through his own questions, that the Phalangists were taking part in that operation. The tasks of the prime minister are many and diverse, and he was entitled to rely on the optimistic and calming report of the defense minister that the entire operation was proceeding without any hitches and in the most satisfactory manner.
We have cited above passages from remarks made at the Cabinet session of Sept. 16, during which the prime minister learned that the Phalangists had that evening begun to operate in the camps. Neither in that meeting nor afterward did the prime minister raise any opposition or objection to the entry of the Phalangists into the camps. Nor did he react to the remarks of Deputy Prime Minister David Levi which contained a warning of the danger to be expected from the Phalangists' entry into the camps. According to the prime minister's testimony, "no one conceived that atrocities would be committed. . . .Simply, none of us, no minister, none of the other participants supposed such a thing. . . ."
The prime minister attached no importance to Minister Levi's remarks because the latter did not ask for a discussion or a vote on this subject. When Minister Levi made his remarks, the prime minister was busy formulating the concluding resolution of the meeting, and for this reason as well he did not pay heed to Minister Levi's remarks.
. . .In our view, because of things that were well known to all, it should have been foreseen that the danger of a massacre existed if the Phalangists were to enter the camps without measures being taken to prevent them from committing acts such as these. We are unable to accept the prime minister's remarks that he was absolutely unaware of such a danger. . . .
We are unable to accept the position of the prime minister that no one imagined that what happened was liable to happen, or what follows from his remarks: that this possibility did not have to be foreseen when the decision was taken to have the Phalangists move into the camps.
As noted, the prime minister first heard about the Phalangists' entry into the camps about 36 hours after the decision to that effect was taken, and did not learn of the decision until the Cabinet session. When he heard about the Phalangists' entry into the camps, it had already taken place. According to the "rosy" reports the prime minister received from the defense minister and the chief of staff, the prime minister was entitled to assume at that time that all the operations in West Beirut had been performed in the best possible manner and had nearly been concluded. We believe that in these circumstances it was not incumbent upon the prime minister to object to the Phalangists' entry into the camps or to order their removal.
On the other hand, we find no reason to exempt the prime minister from responsibility for not having evinced, during or after the Cabinet session, any interest in the Phalangists' actions in the camps. . . .For two days after the prime minister heard about the Phalangists' entry, he showed absolutely no interest in their actions in the camps. . . .
The prime minister's lack of involvement in the entire matter casts on him a certain degree of responsibility.
[On Defense Minister Ariel Sharon:]
It is true that no clear warning was provided by military intelligence or the Mossad civilian intelligence about what might happen if the Phalangist forces entered the camps. . . .But in our view, even without such warning, it is impossible to justify the minister of defense's disregard of the danger of a massacre. . . .
The defense minister also had special reports from his not inconsiderable meetings with the Phalangist heads before Lebanese president-elect Bashir Gemayel's assassination. Giving the Phalangists the possibility of entering the refugee camps without taking measures for continuous and concrete supervision of their actions there could have created a grave danger for the civilian population in the camps even if they had been given such a possibility before Bashir's assassination: Thus this danger was certainly to have been anticipated--and it was imperative to have foreseen it--after Bashir's assassination. The fact that it was not clear which organization had caused Bashir's death was of no importance at all, given the known frame of mind among the combatant camps in Lebanon.
In the circumstances that prevailed after Bashir's assassination, no prophetic powers were required to know that concrete danger of acts of slaughter existed when the Phalangists were moved into the camps without the IDF's Israeli Defense Forces being with them in that operation and without the IDF being able to maintain effective and ongoing supervision of their actions there. The sense of such a danger should have been in the consciousness of every knowledgeable person who was close to this subject, and certainly in the consciousness of the defense minister, who took an active part in everything relating to the war. His involvement. . .was deep, and the connection with the Phalangists was under his constant care.
If in fact the defense minister, when he decided that the Phalangists would enter the camps without the IDF taking part in the operation, did not think that that decision could bring about the very disaster that in fact occurred, the only possible explanation for this is that he disregarded any apprehensions about what was to be expected because the advantages. . .to be gained from the Phalangists' entry into the camps distracted him from the proper consideration. . . .
Had it become clear to the defense minister that no real supervision could be exercised over the Phalangist force that entered the camps with the IDF's assent, his duty would have been to prevent their entry. The usefulness of the Phalangists' entry into the camps was wholly disproportionate to the damage their entry could cause if it were uncontrolled. . . .
We do not accept the contention that the defense minister did not need to fear that the Phalangists would commit acts of killing because in all outward aspects they looked like a disciplined and organized army. It could not be inferred from the Phalangists' orderly military organization that their attitude toward human life and to the noncombatant population had basically changed. It might perhaps be inferred from their military organization that the soldiers would heed the orders of their commanders and not break discipline; but at the very least, care should have been taken that the commanders were imbued with the awareness that no excesses were to be committed. . . .
We shall remark here that it is ostensibly puzzling that the defense minister did not in any way make the prime minister privy to the decision on having the Phalangists enter the camps.
It is our view that responsibility is to be imputed to the minister of defense for having disregarded the danger of acts of vengeance and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps, and having failed to take this danger into account when he decided to have the Phalangists enter the camps. In addition, responsibility is to be imputed to the minister of defense for not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the danger of massacre as a condition for the Phalangists' entry into the camps. These blunders constitute the non-fulfillment of a duty with which the defense minister was charged.
We do not believe that responsibility is to be imputed to the defense minister for not ordering the removal of the Phalangists from the camps when the first reports reached him about the acts of killing being committed there. As was detailed above, such reports initially reached the defense minister on Friday evening, but at the same time, he had heard from the chief of staff that the Phalangists' operation had been halted. . . .
[On Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who failed to act on an early report of trouble at the camp from a Cabinet colleague:]
The phenomenon that came to light in this case--namely, that the statement of one minister to another did not receive the attention it deserved because of faulty relations between members of the Cabinet--is regrettable and worrisome. . . .
In this state of affairs, it might have been expected that the foreign minister, by virtue of his position, would display sensitivity and alertness to what he had heard from another minister. . . .
[On the chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Raphael Eitan:]
The chief of staff should have known and foreseen--by virtue of common knowledge, as well as the special information at his disposal--that there was a possibility of harm to the population in the camps at the hands of the Phalangists.
. . .We find that the chief of staff did not consider the danger of acts of vengeance and bloodshed being perpetrated against the population of the refugee camps in Beirut; he did not order the adoption of the appropriate steps to avoid this danger, and his failure to do so is tantamount to a breach of duty that was incumbent upon the chief of staff.
[On Maj. Gen. Yehoshua Saguy, head of military intelligence:]
The picture received according to the testimony of Maj. Gen. Saguy himself is of indifference and a conspicuous lack of concern, of shutting of eyes and ears to a matter regarding which it was incumbent on the director of the intelligence arm of the IDF to open his eyes and listen well to all that was discussed and decided.
With regard to the following recommendations concerning a group of men who hold senior positions in the government and the Israel Defense Forces, we have taken into account that each of these men has to his credit many public or military services rendered with sacrifice and devotion on behalf of the state of Israel. If nevertheless we have reached the conclusion that it is incumbent upon us to recommend certain measures against some of these men, it is out of the recognition that the gravity of the matter and its implications for the underpinnings of public morality in the state of Israel call for such measures.
The prime minister, the foreign minister, and the head of the Mossad:
We have heretofore established the facts and conclusions with regard to the responsibility of the prime minister, the foreign minister, and the head of the Mossad. In view of what we have determined with regard to the extent of the responsibility of each of them, we are of the opinion that it is sufficient to determine responsibility and there is no need for any further recommendations.
Northern commander, Maj. Gen. Amir Drori: . . .took certain measures for terminating the Phalangists' actions, and his guilt lies in that he did not continue with these actions. Taking into account these circumstances, it appears to us that it is sufficient to determine the responsibility of Maj. Gen. Drori without recourse to any further recommendation.
The minister of defense, Ariel Sharon: We have found, as has been detailed in this report, that the minister of defense bears personal responsibility. In our opinion, it is fitting that the minister of defense draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his office--and if necessary, that the prime minister consider whether he should exercise his authority. . . " to remove a minister from office."
The chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Rafael Eitan: We have arrived at grave conclusions with regard to the acts and omissions of the chief of staff . . . [He] is about to complete his term of service in April 1983. Taking into the account the fact that an extension of his term is not under consideration, there is no significance to a recommendation with regard to his continuing in office as chief of staff, and therefore we have resolved that is sufficient to determine responsibility without making any further recommendation.
The director of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Yehoshua Saguy: We have detailed the various extremely serious omissions of the director of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Yehoshua Saguy, in discharging the duties of his office. We recommend that Maj. Gen. Yehoshua Saguy not continue as director of military intelligence.
Division Commander Brig. Gen. Amos Yaron: We have detailed above the extent of the responsibility of Brig. Gen. Amos Yaron. Taking into account all the circumstances, we recommend that Brig. Gen. Amos Yaron not serve in the capacity of a field commander in the Israel Defense Forces, and that his recommendation not be reconsidered before three years have passed.
. . .Among the responses to the commission from the public, there were those who expressed dissatisfaction with the holding of an inquiry on a subject not directly related to Israel's responsibility.
The argument was advanced that in previous instances of massacre in Lebanon, when the lives of many more people were taken than those of the victims who fell in Sabra and Shatila, world opinion was not shocked and no inquiry commissions were established.
We cannot justify this approach to the issue of holding an inquiry, and not only for the formal reason that it was not we who decided to hold the inquiry, but rather the Israeli government resolved thereon. The main purpose of the inquiry was to bring to light all the important facts relating to the perpetration of the atrocities: it therefore has importance from the perspective of Israel's moral fortitude and its functioning as a democratic state that scrupulously maintains the fundamental principles of the civilized world.
We do not deceive ourselves that the results of this inquiry will convince or satisfy those who have prejudices or selective consciences, but this inquiry was not intended for such people. We have striven and spared no effort to arrive at the truth, and we hope that all persons of good will who will examine the issue without prejudice will be convinced that the inquiry was conducted without any bias.