In Response to "Fierce reputation follows Sharon"
by Steven Feuerstein

Sent to the Chicago Tribune on February 3, 2021 in response to a front page article, "Fierce reputation follows Sharon".

In your February 3 front page article on Ariel Sharon ("Fierce reputation follows Sharon"), you describe him as "Israel's original commando", who founded the "famous" Unit 101, and used "risky, unorthodox methods".  You then go on to describe one such exploit: the killing of 69 civilians in the Arab village of Qibya.

Your retelling of this massacre reflects long-discredited propaganda used to hide the utter brutality of the killings.  Widespread international condemnation erupted after the destruction of Qibya became known.  Sharon claimed that villagers had hidden in cellars and attics.  His soldiers, said Sharon, blew up buildings believing that they were empty.

In fact, Sharon's troops went from house to house, firing through windows and doorways.  Pathologists examining the bodies found that most of the dead were killed by bullets and shrapnel.  The Government of Israel subsequently and indignantly denied that Unit 101 was involved, and heavily censored any news of what really happened, keeping its own citizens in the dark.  Few outside of Israel were deceived; even the United States was outraged, suspending economic aid to Israel for a short time.

The attack on Qibya was terrorism, pure and simple.  It just happened to have been ordered by the Israeli Defense Force Central Command, and carried out by a man who then went on to kill many more Palestinians, Egyptians and Lebanese.  While the massacre was covered up by the Israeli government in 1953, the facts are today readily available.

The Chicago Tribune owes the victims of Qibya and their descendents an apology for presenting such an atrocity as an example of "risky, unorthodox methods".