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Military Tribunal Terms Shooting Order in Kfar Kassem “illegal”

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Sentencing of the eight Israeli border policemen found guilty of killing 43 Arabs in the village of Kfar Kassem almost two years ago will be pronounced Thursday, the military tribunal announced here today. Before sentences are pronounced, however, counsel for the convicted men will be permitted tomorrow to enter pleas in mitigation, and to introduce character testimony.

The court, which only today completed reading the formal judgment–which took two days — scathingly criticized Army Colonel Issachar Shadmi whose order, found “manifestly illegal,” resulted in shooting residents of the Arab village, inside Israel, who were returning from work in the fields on the afternoon of October 29, 1956, unaware that a curfew had been clamped down due to the opening of the Sinai campaign.

Col. Shadmi, who is now in the United States, is expected to return here in a month. He was a prosecution witness during the trial and placed responsibility for the tragedy on Major Shmuel Malinki, one of the eight convicted men.

In its judgment, the court found that Maj. Malinki had not only extended the scope of the illegal order by including women and children. The court held that, as a veteran soldier, Maj. Malinki should have refused to obey Col. Shadmi’s directive. “An officer,” stated the court, “should display courage not only in the face of the enemy, but also in standing up for his rights before a superior officer.”

The court stated that it is its “clear and unreserved belief that it is forbidden for a soldier in any army, and especially one in the Israel Defense Forces, to kill without due process of law any person who has surrendered and who is willing to obey orders.”

“This rule,” the judgment continued, “is an ancient international rule, and is obligatory at all times and in all countries among civilized and even among uncivilized people. It is presumed that every Jewish soldier knows and honors this rule, for he belongs to a nation whose culture dates back 4, 000 years.”

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