Bill on Kafr Qasim Massacre voted down

The Knesset voted Wednesday to reject a bill that would have required the government to accept moral, political and social responsibility for the Kafr Qasim (Kfar Kassem) massacre. The law, proposed by Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality – Communist Party of Israel) would also have required the government to fund an organization dedicated to the memory of those killed, and to teach schoolchildren about the massacre for at least one hour per year.

Kafr Qasim Memorial (photo: Al Itiihad)

The Kafr Qasim massacre took place in 1956. Border Police opened fire on Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel who had “violated a wartime curfew on their village”, killing 48. Those killed had been unaware of the curfew. Schools in the public school system are now instructed to commemorate the massacre each year and teach the need to disobey immoral orders.

News of the massacre leaked out almost immediately. However, it took two months of lobbying by communist Knesset Members Tawfik Toubi and Meir Vilner and members of the press (from Kol Ha’am, Al Ittihad and Haolam Haze newspapers) before the government lifted the media blackout imposed by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. To limit publicity, a military cordon was maintained around the village for months, preventing journalists from approaching.