October 29th, 1956: Remembering the Kafr Qassem Massacre and Reclaiming Palestinian History

Today we remember and honor the forty-nine Palestinians who were martyred in the Kafr Qassem massacre on October 29th, 1956. 

On that day, the occupation imposed a curfew on the village of Kafr Qassem in 1948 Palestine while the Palestinian residents of the village were out working in the fields. 

Zionist forces were then dispatched to Kafr Qassem with orders to “shoot to kill at any person seen outside their home after 17:00, making no distinction between men, women, children and those returning from outside the village.”

Upon returning back to Kafr Qassem, unaware of the curfew or the terror that awaited them, the villagers were met by the occupation forces, lined up and murdered in cold blood. Twenty three of the Palestinians who were martyred were children under the age of eighteen.

In response, the zionist entity fined the commanding officer that led the massacre one cent.

The cover up and erasure of the Kafr Qassem massacre came just eight years after the Nakba in 1948, and just three years after the Qibya massacre in 1953. In every instance of pre-meditated genocide, the zionist entity not only denied responsibility, but sought to erase the events from history altogether.

But history cannot be erased, and in recent years, the history of Palestinian struggle, survival, resilience and resistance in the village of Kafr Qassem has seen a newfound resurgence. 

In October 2017, Within Our Lifetime joined with Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right To Return Coalition to co-sponsor the first US screening and revival of the internationally acclaimed film “Kafr Qassem” – a 1974 production by filmmaker Borhane Alaouié that chronicles the everyday life of the Palestinians of Kafr Qassem and the events leading up to the massacre, set against the backdrop of the 1956 israeli invasion of Egypt after Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. 

In the film, as explained by Al-Awda, “Alaouié uses near scientific accuracy in his depiction of the events, relying on official transcripts and records to build the narrative. The audience is also treated to glimpses of the daily life of the townspeople, their history and their humanity.” It is this humanity that zionism has sought to erase for over seventy years, and failed time and time again. 

For decades, Palestinians in Kafr Qassem have commemorated the massacre by dedicating the week before the anniversary each year to educational events, school trips to the Kafr Qassem Massacre Museum and public demonstrations honoring the martyrs of the massacre. And on October 29th every year, as explained by Lina Badr who lives in the village, “We hold a huge demonstration to make sure it is clear: there will be no forgetting.”