My grandmother was murdered in Kafr Qasim, now these are my demands

I think about the events that led up to the murder of my grandmother and 48 other women, children, and men, along with dozens of survivors who carry their trauma until today. Will we ever see true justice?

By Reem Amer

Thousands take part in the march to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Kafr Qasim, October 29, 2016. (photo: Joint List)
Thousands take part in the march to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Kafr Qasim, October 29, 2016. (photo: Joint List)

Everyone speaks of the Kafr Qasim massacre of 1956 as if it were an isolated case. As if Border Police officers decided to carry out, without any connection to or orders from the government echelon or military establishment. Yet we tend to forget that the regime and the Zionist movement, which sought to empty the land of it inhabitants, was behind the massacre.

One cannot disconnect what took place in Kafr Qasim from the injustices and oppression that began in 1948 and continue until today in places such as Al-Araqib and Umm al-Hiran, where the authorities destroy homes and expropriate land on a regular basis. The massacre was yet another attempt to force Palestinians to leave their homeland and join the hundreds of thousands of refugees who were expelled during the 1948 war.

One of the journalists who came to interview me in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the Kafr Qasim massacre asked about our demands, and whether we would forgive and move on if only the Israeli government would express remorse. We explained that an apology is not enough.

The goal remains the same

I am the granddaughter of Hamisa Farg Amer, who was murdered on that day in 1956. My grandmother was murdered while on her way back from the olive harvest with her friends who suffered a similar fate, save for one survivor, Hana’a Sliman Amer. My grandmother was born in Jaffa. She and her family lived in the Al-Manshiyya neighborhood, when her family became refugees and fled for the ’67 territories. We are in touch with some of them until today, we lost touch with others, and there are some whose fate we know nothing about.

I think about the events that led up to the murder of my grandmother and 48 other women, children, and men, along with dozens of survivors who carry their trauma until today. I think about them and about the fate of the activists who pledged to bring forth the full story of the massacre, to teach their children and grandchildren about the courage necessary to demand justice. These are people who, time after time, paid a heavy price when they were arrested and had their homes were raided on the eve of the massacre’s commemoration.

Knesset Member Ibrahim Sarsur stands by a monument for the victims of the Kafr Qasim massacre, October 28, 2007. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)
Knesset Member Ibrahim Sarsur stands by a monument for the victims of the Kafr Qasim massacre, October 28, 2007. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

In the first 20 years following the massacre, when Palestinian citizens lived under military rule, the military governor would issue arrest warrants for activists in order to prevent them from marching to commemorate the massacre. The authorities would confiscate black flags and megaphones, which were used for chanting slogans against the military government. One of those people was my father, Muhammad Khamis Amer.

When I think about my personal story, my family’s story, and I think about our demands, I have an answer made up of several questions: will the Israeli government recognize the ongoing injustice that the state has caused the Palestinian people since 1948? What would be the significance of such recognition? Will it include remedying those injustices? Will it fully recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination? Will it fully recognize the Palestinian people’s right to return to the land from which they were and continue to be expelled?

After all, Kafr Qasim, Sabra and Shatila, Kaft Qana, the attacks on Gaza, every massacre has been carried out with a single goal in mind: expulsion and oppression.

Reem Amer is a feminist and political activist. She is a General Coordinator at Coalition of Women for Peace. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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