Thousands march in Kafr Kasim.
(photo credit: JOINT LIST)
Some 4,000 people marched through Kafr Kasim on Saturday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the massacre there by border policemen and to demand recognition of the state’s responsibility for the killing of 49 residents.
“Today we mark the horrible massacre that occurred in Kafr Kasim, in which 49 civilians were killed by the Border Police forces,” Joint List MK Ayman Odeh said on Saturday. “It is on the Israeli government to recognize the terrible massacre in Kafr Kasim and the historical crimes. Recognition not in the sense of ‘expressing sorrow and pain,’ but through the uprooting of the racist notions that led to the massacre at Kafr Kasim. Only recognition of all past crimes will pave the way for true equality,” he added.
The massacre occurred on October 29, 1956, when border policemen fired on people who were returning from work and were unaware that a curfew had been imposed on the town. The standing orders of the Border Police were to shoot anyone violating the curfew.
Among the dead were 19 men, six women and 23 children under the age of 18. Arab-Israelis usually cite 49 people as the death toll, as one of the victims was pregnant at the time of the massacre.
The officers who participated in the killing were placed on trial, found guilty and sentenced to prison, but were then granted pardons.
The brigade commander was sentenced to pay 10 prutot, the lowest denomination coin, as a symbolic fine.
In a statement on Saturday, MK Touma-Sliman said she would bring a bill to the Knesset this week to recognize the state’s responsibility for the massacre. “Sixty years have passed and the government’s militaristic mentality still dominates, and the government still treats us as enemies and not as members of this homeland,” she said.
Successive Israeli governments have condemned the massacre, yet fallen short of accepting responsibility.
In 2007, then-president Shimon Peres issued an apology for the massacre during a visit to the town, while President Reuven Rivlin called the massacre a “terrible crime” in 2014.
Among those present at the demonstration were Arab-Israeli community leaders and Joint List MKs Odeh, Aida Touma-Sliman, Ahmad Tibi and Dov Henin.Ben Lynfield contributed to this report.