Israeli president apologises for 1956 Kafr Qasim massacre

Israeli president apologises for Kafr Qasim massacre, day after Knesset drops bill to recognise it
2 min read
29 October, 2021
Israel's president apologised for a massacre in the Palestinian village of Kafr Qasim on its 65th anniversary, asking for 'forgiveness' - a day after the Knesset failed to pass a draft law that would have seen the massacre formally recognised.
Herzog asked for forgiveness during a ceremony commemorating the massacre [Getty-file photo]

The Israeli president apologised on Friday for a 1956 massacre in a Palestinian village, a day after the Knesset dropped a bill that would have recognised the event.

"I bow my head before the memory of the 49 victims. I bow my head before you, their families, and before the inhabitants of Kafr Qasim throughout the ages," Isaac Herzog said at a ceremony commemorating the victims.

He repeated his apology in Arabic.

"On behalf of myself and the State of Israel, I ask for forgiveness."

The Israeli head of state, largely a ceremonial figurehead role with minimal executive powers, said the killing and injury of innocents was completely forbidden, and goes beyond any political disputes.

"On this day, sixty-five years after the catastrophe, we shall pray and hope that the memory of the victims will stay with us as a lesson and a compass, and that from the depths of the pain we shall sprout forth together a shared future, one full of hope."

A vast majority of deputies voted on Thursday against the bill, proposed by the Joint Arab List.

The bill proposed adding the massacre to the school curriculum, something Herzog said he supported if done "in an organised fashion."

Israeli border police, or Magav, killed at least 48 Palestinians in Kafr Qasim, which sat along the de facto border between Israel and the occupied West Bank under Jordanian control at the time. Nearly half of those killed were children and teenagers.

Some estimates put the death toll at 49, to account for an unborn child.