On the evening of October 29, 1956 Israeli troops shot and killed 49 unarmed Palestinian civilians in the village of Kafr Qasem, 20 km east of Tel Aviv near the green line.
Now the village has a population of 18,100 Palestinians, some of who marched today alongside neighboring Arab villages to commemorate those killed 1956. People marched from the village center to the memorial site and placed candles for those killed; village leaders made speeches in commemoration.
From 1949 till late 1966 the Israeli government decided to consider all its Palestinians citizens a “hostile population “. All major Arab population centers were governed by military administrations and divided into four districts.
Seven Arab villages, including Kafr Qasim, all along the green line, were considered as high infiltration threat. The villages were patrolled regularly by border police (Magav) under the command of Israeli army brigade commander Colonel Issachar Shadmi. Those villages, containing some 40, 000 villagers, were called the Central District.
October 29, 1956
On the day of the massacre, the Israeli army decided to place all seven villages along the green line under a curfew called the War Time Curfew, from 5 in the evening until 6 the following morning. Israeli soldiers were instructed to shoot and kill any villager violating the curfew.
Even though the border police troops were given the order by their commander at 3:30 in the afternoon, they only informed the mayor of Kafr Qasim about an hour later, leaving a window of 30 minutes for the 400 villagers working in the fields or outside the village to come back home.
According to Israeli investigation committee records, from 5:00 pm until 6:30 on October 29, 1956, border police shot and killed 49 villagers from Kafr Qasim as they tried to return home. Among those killed were 23 children and one pregnant woman.
The killed and injured were left unattended through the night. After the curfew ended, villagers took the injured to hospitals and laid the dead to rest in a mass grave.
In his testimony during the investigation, the survivor Jamal Farij said that soldiers shot villagers without any warning. He was driving back to his village along with 28 passengers in a truck.
‘We talked to them. We asked if they wanted our identity cards. They didn’t. Suddenly one of them said, ‘Cut them down’ – and they opened fire on us like a flood.’
Eight Israeli soldiers were charged by the Israeli court and found guilty of murder. The two commanding officers of the unit, Malinki and Dahan, received 17 and 15 years’ imprisonment, respectively. These sentences were later reduced.
Colonel Issachar Shadmi was tried and found guilty only of extending the curfew without authority. He was released after paying a fine of one Israeli cent. On November 1959, after two years, the Israel Committee for the Release of Prisoners released all eight convicted soldiers on orders.
Malinki retained his military post and got a promotion to be in charge of security for a top secret Israeli Nuclear Research Center located in the Negev. Dahan was appointed as the head of the “Arab Affairs” department by the city of Ramla, another Palestinian village Israel taken over during 1948.
During Israel’s creation in 1948, and years later, Israeli soldiers shot and killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians. No legal action has been taken against any Israeli leader, commander, or soldier involved in what would later become known as the Palestinian Nakba.
Ghassan Bannoura – Palestine News Network
October 31, 2010