World Bulletin/News Desk
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin attended on Sunday a ceremony to mark the 1956 massacre by the Israeli army of 48 Palestinians in Kafr Qasem town, the first ever such participation by an Israeli head of state in the annual ceremony.
"A serious crime was committed here and needs to be repaired," Rivlin was quoted by Israeli daily Haaretz as telling the ceremony.
"[ Israel must] look straight at what happened in the Kafr Qasem massacre and teach all future generations about it," he added.
On October 29, 1956, Israeli soldiers killed 48 Palestinians, the majority of whom were women and children, in Kafr Qasim, a town near the Green Line separating Israel and the West Bank.
The incident happened when the village's local residents were making their way home from work, unaware of a newly imposed curfew.
Israeli soldiers were charged by the Israeli court and found guilty of murder. The two commanding officers of the unit, Malinki and Dahan, received 17 and 15 years’ imprisonment, respectively. These sentences were later reduced.
Colonel Issachar Shadmi was tried and found guilty only of extending the curfew without authority. He was released after paying a fine of one Israeli cent. On November 1959, after two years, all eight convicted soldiers were released on orders by the Israel Committee for the Release of Prisoners.
Israel refers to Palestinians who did not leave their homes and cities after the creation of Israel in 1948 as "Israeli Arabs."
This is the first time that an Israeli president participated in the memorial ceremony in the town to commemorate the massacre.
Rivlin said the Arab population "will always be part of the flesh and blood of the State of Israel."
He asserted that Israel "needs to be honest and admit that the Arab sector in Israel has suffered from years of discrimination" and that "many Arabs in Israel are faced with racism from Jews."
The Israeli leader, meanwhile, called on the Arab community to acknowledge that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and denounce violence.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Ekim 2014, 17:08