Irish TV channel retracts Ariel Sharon massacre claim

By Charlotte Oliver, January 30, 2014

An Irish television channel has admitted it “was not correct” in its coverage of Ariel Sharon, after reporting that the former Israeli prime minister led the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut in 1982.

RTÉ News and Current Affairs, the largest news source in Ireland, had broadcast a report after Mr Sharon’s death last month, stating that he was at the helm of the massacre, which saw the murder of over 3,000 civilians in Lebanon by the Christian Phalangist militia.

But following complaints made to the channel by Zionist Federation members Stephen Franklin and Elliot Davis, and Frank Baigel, director of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester, the channel retracted its statement.

Mr Franklin wrote to RTÉ: “Sharon neither led nor participated in nor desired a massacre in Beirut. An Israeli investigation into the massacre found that he was responsible ‘for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge when he approved the entry of the Phalangists into the camps’.”

Following the complaints, the channel broadcast a retraction at the end of an evening news bulletin last weekend.

It said: “In a recent RTÉ news report on the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, it was stated that Mr Sharon led the 1982 massacre in Beirut at the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.

“A subsequent inquiry found that Mr Sharon bore indirect responsibility. We were not correct to report the massacre was led by him.”

Last updated: 10:45pm, January 30 2014