Jerusalem24– The Israeli Military Court of Appeals has ruled that classified records from the trial of Israeli officers behind the 1956 Kafr Qassem Massacre may now be published.
The ruling ended a nearly five-year-long legal process spearheaded by Akevot, the Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research. Despite the affirmative ruling, a gag order was imposed on the ruling that remained in force until Monday. In addition to being imposed on the ruling itself, a gag order was imposed on the fact that a ruling occurred.
Haaretz reported last week about both the existence of the ruling and the gag order imposed on it, prompting public criticism that led to the gag order being lifted.
Hundreds of pages of records will be released soon.
The trial took place in the late 1950s. The defendants were border policemen who shot and killed almost 50 Palestinians in the town of Kafr Qassem after they unknowingly violated a curfew on the eve of the Suez War with Egypt.
Some of the documents to be released touch on a secret plan to deport Palestinians from Israel’s Triangle region to Jordan. The plan was never put into operation and its full details have yet to be revealed.
However the court is still barring publication of the plan itself, as well as photographs from the scene of the Kafr Qassem massacre.
The Kafr Qassem massacre took place in the Palestinian village of Kafr Qassem situated on the Green Line – at that time, the de facto border between Israel and the Jordanian West Bank – on October 29, 1956. It was carried out by the Israel Border Police (Magav), who killed Palestinian civilians returning from work during a curfew of which they were unaware, imposed earlier in the day on the eve of the Sinai war. A total of 48 people died, including 19 men, six women, and 23 children aged 8 to 17.
The border policemen involved in the shooting were brought to trial and found guilty. They were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, but all received pardons and were released within a year. The brigade commander was made to pay a symbolic fine of 10 Prutot – old Israeli cents.
In October 2021, a Joint List bill to have the massacre officially recognized was turned down in the Knesset.