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Hundreds march through Kafr Qasim to mark 63rd anniversary of massacre

Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman calls on Israel to take responsibility for 1956 incident in which Border Police shot and killed 48 Arab Israelis

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Hundreds marching through Kafr Qasim on October 29, 2019, to mark the 1956 massacre in which Border Police shot and killed 48 Arab Israelis. (Joint List)
Hundreds marching through Kafr Qasim on October 29, 2019, to mark the 1956 massacre in which Border Police shot and killed 48 Arab Israelis. (Joint List)

Hundreds participated in an annual march and memorial service on Tuesday in the Arab Israeli town of Kafr Qasim, marking the 63rd anniversary of a massacre that took place there in which members of the Border Police shot dead dozens of residents.

Participants walked through Kafr Qasim, which is located adjacent to the West Bank and 22 kilometers (14 miles) from Tel Aviv, to a monument that commemorates the massacre in the center of the town, where a number of speeches were delivered.

A sign held up by some of the marchers — including Arab Knesset members — read: “We will not forget. We will not forgive. The wound is still bleeding.”

On October 29, 1956, the first day of the Suez Crisis, members of the Border Police were directed to shoot to kill anyone violating a curfew that was placed on Kafr Qasim.

Many locals had not learned of the curfew, and later that evening, the Border Police shot and killed 48 men, women and children. Almost all of them were from Kafr Qasim and one of the female victims had been pregnant.

A court later convicted and sentenced several members of the Border Police. But their sentences were ultimately reduced and all of them ended up spending no more than a few years in prison.

Joint List MKs participating in a memorial service in Kafr Qasim on October 29, 2019 to mark a 1956 massacre in which Border Police shot and killed 48 Arab Israelis. (Credit: Joint List)

Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman, who participated in the march on Tuesday, reiterated a call on the government to take responsibility for the massacre.

“Sixty-three years have passed since the Kafr Qasim massacre, in which 49 Arab citizens were butchered by the Border Police,” the lawmaker tweeted. “We are continuing to demand justice for the victims’ families and Israel’s recognition of the massacre and its responsibility for it.”

Arab Israeli leaders have long called on the government to officially take responsibility for the massacre.

While a number of sitting and former Israeli government officials have come to Kafr Qasim over the past couple of decades to mark the anniversary of the massacre, the Knesset has rejected proposed legislation under which the Jewish state would acknowledge responsibility for it.

In 2014, Reuven Rivlin became the first sitting president to participate in the annual memorial service, where he condemned the massacre.

“The criminal killing that took place in your village is an irregular and dark chapter in the history of the relationship between Arabs and Jews living here,” Rivlin said at the time. “A terrible crime was committed here, illegal orders topped by a black flag were given here. We must look directly at what happened. It is our duty to teach this difficult incident and to draw lessons.”

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