Kafr Qasim massacre was part of an ethnic cleansing plan
On July 30 this year, the archives of the Israeli occupation forces released court documents related to the trial of Israeli soldiers who brutally massacred 49 Palestinians on October 29, 1956. The massacre took place in the Palestinian town of Kafr Qasim.
It was the first day of the Israeli, British and French invasion of Sinai, which came in response to Egypt's closure of the Suez Canal. Israel imposed night curfew on most of the areas with high Palestinian (Arab) populations in Israel.
Late Brig Gen Issachar Shadmi was the commander of the Israeli army brigade which was in charge of Kafr Qasim, located in the centre of the recently occupied Palestine that became Israel, or close to the Armistice Line with Jordan, which controlled the West Bank at the time. He ordered the curfew to start earlier that day and ordered his officers to strictly implement it.
Palestinian or Arab farmers, who were at their farms outside the village, returned home without knowing anything about the updates related to the curfew. The border police officers commanded by Shadmi mercilessly opened fire at the unarmed farmers, killing 49, including the elderly, women and children.
The massacre was widely condemned, even by officials from the Israeli occupation government, which sent Shadmi and the other officers involved in the massacre to trial and sentenced all of them. The officers spent a very short time in prison before they had a presidential pardon.
Regarding Shadmi, the highest commander of the area at the time, the judges ordered him to pay a fine of 10 cents, according to Haaretz, for pushing up the curfew without the approval of the military governor. The judges claimed he did so "in good faith." This way, the issue of the massacre was closed, but the court documents revealed on Friday disclosed new facts about it.
The transcript of Haim Levy, who was a company commander, showed that there was a clear order to shoot Palestinians who broke the curfew without knowing about the change of its starting time. Levy also said, according to the court documents, that he had been told by battalion commander Shmuel Malinki, "It is desirable that there be a number of casualties."
Milinki told the court that he answered the soldiers, who asked him how they should deal with the Palestinians who did not know about the change in the timing of the curfew, that they should kill them. "Allah yerhamu," he said in Arabic. It means, "May God have mercy on them." This proves that there were plans to kill Palestinians, prepared before the massacre took place.
To prove that the intentional killing of Palestinians was a major order related to the situation at Kafr Qasim, Commander Gabriel Dahan said, according to the Jerusalem Post, he had been told by Melinki "without sentiments, it is better to have a few dead, so that there will be peace in the area."
During the hearings, the Israeli soldiers mentioned, several times, a plan called "Hafarferet" ("Mole"), which was prepared to be implemented during the invasion of Sinai, but Israel wanted it to start spontaneously – not to be initiated by its army, like the invasion of Egypt.
As part of this operation, Levy said that there were measures meant to move the Palestinians from their homes, including curfew imposition, property confiscation and moving entire villages from place to place. According to the Jerusalem Post, Levy said in the case of Kafr Qasim, "the entire population of the village was to be moved to Tira."
The aim was not only to move Palestinians from one area to another area inside Palestine or Israel, but to move them out of the country. Levy said that the Israeli occupation forces were told "not to put lookouts and checkpoints on the eastern side [of Kafr Qasim] so that if the Arabs decided to flee, they could and would be allowed to go over the Jordanian border [Armistice Line]."
Levy also said he understood there was a direct link between shooting the Palestinians, who violated the curfew, and changing Israel's demographic makeup. "The connection is that, as a result, part of the population would get scared and decide that it is best to live on the other side. That's how I interpret it," he told the judges, according to Wafa news agency.
All of these statements prove that the Kafr Qasim massacre was part of an ethnic cleansing operation and the following court proceedings, which were kept secret for more than six decades, were just an attempt to whitewash the Israeli occupation army's crimes.
This is normal in Israel, which has a track record of this injustice. Shadmi, who was fined to pay only 10 cents over brutally commanding the massacre of 49 Palestinians, was found by the Israeli court to be acting "in good faith."
His colleague at Kadoorie Agricultural High School, Yitzhak Rabin, whose bloody history included the killing of about 1,000 Egyptian prisoners when he was the chief commander during the 1967 war, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize just for claiming to have reached a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Moshe Dayan, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and others massacred Palestinians and shed plenty of Palestinian blood, and they are being referred to by Israelis and non-Israelis as heroes. Even the Israeli leaders today are doing the same. The current Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who took pride in bombing Gaza to the Stone Age, is still portrayed as a "dove of peace."
This article was first published by the Middle East Monitor on August 1, 2022.
Motasem A Dalloul is the Middle East Monitor's correspondent in the Gaza Strip.