Israel Army Chief Orders Study of Judgment of Kafr Kassem Trial

Army Chief of Staff Chaim Laskov instructed the chief military prosecutor today to study the judgment of the Kafr Kassem trial to determine whether further trials shall be ordered in the killing of 43 Arab citizens of Israel two years ago.

The prosecutor has been told to speed a decision on whether Col. Issachar Shadmi, commander of the border district in which the incident occurred, should be indicted for issuance of an Illegal “shoot to kill” order to border patrolmen imposing a sudden curfew. The court which convicted eight of eleven officers and men involved in the shootings, sharply rebuked Col. Shadmi, who appeared at the trial as a prosecution witness.

The curfew was imposed on the afternoon of October 28, 1956, just prior to that night’s assault on the Sinai Peninsula. Arab farmer families, returning from the fields unaware of the imposition of the curfew, were shot down as wilful violators of the military order. The country was aroused by the deed and the government attempted to make amends by payment of damages and compensation and by trying those responsible.

In an aftermath of the sentencing of eight officers and men of the Israeli border patrol in the Kafr Kassem trial, the Herut Party announced today it would introduce a bill in Parliament clarifying a soldier’s duties with respect to obeying a commander’s orders.

The Herut said it feels that the situation in the wake of the Kafr Kassem convictions has left confusion in the minds of soldiers and may undermine discipline, unless duties are clearly stated. At the same time, the party asked the government to “draw all conclusions” from the court’s condemnation of Col. Shadmi, the officer who handed down the original “shoot to kill” orders in imposing the curfew.

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