Black Saturday (Lebanon)
|Part of the Lebanese Civil War|
|Location||East Beirut, Lebanon|
|Date||6 December 1975|
|Target||Palestinians including PLO members|
|Deaths||200 to 600|
|Perpetrators||Kataeb Party militia, Lebanese National Movement|
|Motive||Retaliation for the Muslim militia attack|
On 6 December 1975, the bodies of four members of the rightist Kataeb Party (Phalange), an organization grouping primarily Maronite Christians, were found in an abandoned car outside the state-owned power plant in Christian-dominated East Beirut.
The Phalange's militiamen in the city went into a frenzied rage, blaming the killings on the Lebanese National Movement (LNM), dominated by leftist Muslims and Palestinians. Phalange forces attacked Muslims throughout Christian-dominated East Beirut, indiscriminately firing into crowds. Tens or hundreds of Muslim hostages were snatched off city streets and either killed or later released for ransom.
Fighters, allegedly led by Joseph Saadeh, whose son was one of the four murdered, began putting up checkpoints on major roads. At these, passing cars and pedestrians were intercepted and ordered to show their Lebanese identity cards. Any Palestinians (who as refugees were stateless, and had no ID cards) or Lebanese Muslims (Lebanese identity cards indicated religious affiliation) were killed on the spot.
In an orgy of bloodletting, several hundred people were murdered in a few hours, most of them civilian. Estimations of the total number of victims range between 200 and 600. Phalangist headquarters released a communiqué the next day claiming the revenge was supposed to have been limited to hostage-taking, but had escalated into a massacre because of "hysteria" and "elements who would not listen to orders of their superiors".
Immediately afterwards, the LNM attacked Phalangist positions in retaliation. Major combat raged in the capital, and much of the surrounding countryside, until 22 January 1976, but was soon to resume again.