Israel Cabinet Unit Named to Investigate Kafr Kassem Incident

The Israel Cabinet took steps today to trace to the very top of the country’s army command the responsibility for the events at Kafr Kassem two years ago, when 43 Arab men, women and children were killed by border policemen. A three-member committee was formed by the Cabinet to probe into the exact orders issued prior to the 1956 Sinai campaign. The committee consists of Minister of Justice Pinhas Rosen, Minister of Development Mordechal Bentov, and Peretz Naftali, Minister without Portfolio.

Already, the accusations in connection with the shooting of the Arabs have advanced beyond the immediate officers in charge of the border unit, to their commander, Col. Issachar Shadmi. The chief attorney for Israel’s army today presented formal charges against Col. Shadmi, accusing him of issuing the general curfew orders in the Kafr Kassem region.

However, the Cabinet committee is looking into the orders given Col. Shadmi by the colonel’s commander, Brigadier Zvi Tsur, who was in charge of the central command, which included the area assigned to Shadmi’s responsibility. Beyond Brig. Tsur, the question will arise as to the order emanating from the Army’s topmost echelons.

The eight men and officers of Col. Shadmi’s former command, found guilty of the Kafr Kassem atrocity and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, filed appeals today from the convictions by the military tribunal that tried them.

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