About 1,000 people participated on Tuesday in an assembly in memory of those killed in the Kafr Qasem massacre, which was held to mark the 63rd anniversary of the murder of 49 residents of the village by a Border Patrol battalion.
Throughout the years, the Kfar Qasem massacre has been considered an open wound in the relations between the State of Israel and its Arab citizens. And at the assembly, the residents tied the massacre to divisive decisions made by the government. “We don’t forget and don’t forgive,” said city resident Ayman Amar to Haaretz.
“Kfar Qasem is wounded, we will always remember the martyrs who died for no reason,” called out former MK and village resident Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsour, who led the demonstrators.
The participants in the procession assembled next to the monument built in memory of the dead, and stood for a moment of silence in their memory. They also called for “a new era between the two peoples,” and said that if the government does not promote coexistence, the residents have to do so by themselves.”
“Thanks also to the Jews who came today and recognized the importance of the event. The time has come for a new era,” said Sarsour.
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Rose Amar, a resident of Kfar Qasem whose grandmother was shot to death in the massacre, said that any attempt to blur the subject will fail. She added that the march included members of the younger generation, who are determined to perpetuate and to remember what the state is trying to make people forget.
“My grandmother was killed,” she said. “We remember that in the family every day, but the thought that they killed her without her being able to defend herself makes us angry every year anew,” said Amar. “That’s why we’re coming out and shouting even after 63 years.”
“The memory of the massacre is part of Kafr Qasem,” said Asmahan Issa, a social activist from the village. “The feeling is that the situation has even deteriorated.” MK Walid Taha of the Joint List agreed that the criticism of the government by village residents has become harsher recently.
“The Kafr Qasem massacre and the government’s conduct of the state following it have shaped the attitude of the government towards its Arab citizens,” said Taha to Haaretz. “The wound will continue to bleed as long as the State of Israel continues to fail to acknowledge its full responsibility for the acts of its soldiers, the Arab citizen will continue to feel that he is unprotected in his country.”
MK Aida Touma-Suleiman of the Joint List, who participated in the demonstration, accused the government of evading responsibility. “The time has come to ask for forgiveness and to acknowledge the injustice done to those killed,” she told Haaretz.
In the massacre, which was perpetrated by Border Patrol soldiers on the first day of the Sinai Campaign in 1956, 49 residents of the village, all of them Israeli citizens, were murdered, including women and children.
Despite the fact that 63 years have passed since then, and despite the official apology for the massacre by the president, the government is still concealing from the public documents that record the affair.