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Sharon says he approved entry into refugee camps

Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon testified Monday that he personally authorized, without specific government approval, the entry of Lebanese militiamen into the Beirut refugee camps where they massacred hundreds of Palestinian civilians.

General Sharon, controversial architect of Israel's June 6 invasion of Lebanon, made the disclosure in testimony before the first open session of the judicial inquiry into the massacre.

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Asked why the Army had not carried out the operation, instead of relying on its Lebanese allies, General Sharon replied that the high command wanted to avoid Israeli casualties.