Thousands mark 60th anniversary of massacre of Arab citizens

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Thousands marched through the Arab-Israeli village of Kfar Kassem and attended a memorial ceremony marking the 1956 massacre by Israeli border policemen that killed 47 town residents.

Some 4,000 people marched on Saturday to mark the 60th anniversary of the massacre, which occurred on Oct. 29, 1956 on the first day of the war in the Sinai. An earlier curfew had been imposed on the village, but the town’s residents were not aware of the new curfew hours. They were shot and killed by Israeli troops as they returned home from work. Eight of the soldiers were found guilty and sentenced to prison, but later pardoned.

“It is on the Israeli government to recognize the terrible massacre in Kfar Kassem 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 Kfar Kassem. Only recognition of all past crimes will pave the way for true equality,” Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint List political party said in an address to the marchers.

Other Arab-Israeli politicians at the march include Aida Touma-Sliman, Ahmad Tibi and Dov Henin.


Israeli President Shimon Peres in December 2007 apologized for the massacre during a visit to the village for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

In 2014, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin became the first sitting Israeli president to participate in the annual ceremony.

“We must look straight at what happened in the Kfar Kassem massacre and teach all the future generations about it,” Rivlin said at the event. “A serious crime was committed here and needs to be repaired.”