Recently released documents related to the Kafr Qasem massacre have revealed that Israeli soldiers believed they were following orders when they started a massacre that led to the massacre of 53 Palestinians.
In one of the worst massacres in Palestinian history, Israeli Border Police killed 53 Palestinian residents of Kafr Qasem, including women and children, in an hour-long massacre that aimed to terrorize indigenous peoples to uproot themselves and destroy their homes. leaving, causing another wave of ethnic cleansing.
The massacre took place on the same day as the failed Suez campaign, in which Israel, Britain and France conspired to overthrow Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser in order to regain control of the Suez Canal, which the then Egyptian president had lost three months earlier. had nationalized. The hope was that a major international conflict would divert attention and provide sufficient cover for the occupying state to drive out more of the indigenous population in its relentless takeover of Palestine.
Historian Adam Raz is the author of “Kafr Qasem Massacre: A Political Biography”. He believes that behind the horrific event of 1956 was a secret plan to expel (“transfer”) the Palestinian citizens of Israel from the coveted area known as the Triangle in central Palestine. At the time of the massacre, Palestinians who managed to escape Israel’s ethnic cleansing were living under martial law, a situation that lasted until 1967.
The Israelis have maintained that although a plan existed, it was shelved. However, the recently released transcripts of the trial that followed the massacre refute the Israeli claim. At its best, the plan’s implementation appears to have been surrounded by a deadly ambiguity that soldiers interpreted as orders to evacuate Palestinian cities, as they have done many times before.
READ: The memory of Kafr Qasem has been sealed by Israel for far too long
The goal of expelling the native Palestinian population was already entrenched in the Zionist TBEN and that of the early Jewish settlers. When their first majority chance to expel the indigenous population came in 1947/48, more than half of the Palestinian population was ethnically cleansed and more than 600 villages were razed to the ground.
In the case of Kafr Qasem, the idea behind the plan, such as the Israeli Haaretz pointed out was to exploit a future war with Jordan for the evacuation of Arab villages in this Triangle. Some of the population would flee to Jordan, while others would be sent to detention camps in Israel.
The transcripts quote a few sentences related to the secret, allegedly put away plan. Among them is an “eviction notice to village elders” – evidence that there was a plan to transfer some or all of the Arabs into the Little Triangle should the war escalate. Some witnesses speak of deportation to the east, that is, to Jordan. Others indicate that the intention was to evict them from their homes to other places in Israel.
Testimony from Israeli commanders shows that the Israelis were ordered to kill. “It is desirable that there be deaths,” Chaim Levy, who commanded the southern border police company, of which Kafr Qasem was a part, said according to the 1957 trial over the massacre. Responding to Levy’s claim that it was desirable to have fatalities, a lawyer asked, “Nevertheless, he insisted on not committing murder, right?” to which Levy replied, “I see no difference.” Levy further revealed that he had been ordered to kill. “Today I find this unreasonable. At the time I thought it was reasonable,” he said when polled by the lawyer.