Yitzhak Berman, catalyst for Sabra and Shatila massacre inquiry

by | Aug 16, 2013 | Obituaries

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Yitzhak Berman, who quit Menachem Begin’s government to protest its resistance to investigating the causes of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, has died.

Berman died and was buried Sunday, August 4 on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem with a Knesset honor guard, Israeli media reported. He was 100.

The former spy made his mark on Israeli history in the wake of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, during which Israel’s Phalangist allies in Lebanon killed more than 1,000 Palestinian civilians in refugee camps from Sept. 16 to 18, 1982.

The energy minister at the time, he was outraged at Prime Minister Begin’s resistance to establishing a commission of inquiry.

His resignation on Sept. 30, 1982, the threat of others to follow and a mass protest in Tel Aviv all led Begin to set up the Kahan Commission, which found that high-ranking officials—notably Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan—bore personal responsibility for not stopping the massacre.

The findings forced the resignation of Sharon, Eitan and others.