We think of the past, present, and future as real and separate. In fact, they are neither. There is no past, there is no future, there really isn't exactly even a present. There is just...and gone.
Sort of, anyway.
This is not to say that things that happened yesterday don't have an impact on things that will happen tomorrow. The presupposition of what we experience, are, do today is what happened "before."
On October 29, 1956 something horrible did happen. A massacre of innocent Palestinians took place on the eve of the Suez War at Kafr Qasim.
Thousands of Palestinians on Tuesday marked the 57th anniversary of the massacre. Nader Sarsour, the mayor of Kafr Qasim said that the families of martyrs, thousands from the city and delegations from other Arab cities and villages participated in the rally. Other leaders of the Palestinian community and a number of Jews also attended the rally.
Kafr Qasim, is a hill-top Arab city located about twenty kilometers east of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, near the Green Line separating Israel and the West Bank.
Lina Badr is absolutely correct. You won't find much about the actual even in Israeli text books. What you might find is something about the special court martial of some of those involved in the killings. The specific results of the court martial were varied. Some soldiers were sent to prison, some others were not. Even those who were imprisoned were released rather quickly by the Israeli establishment, "pardoned" as it were.
Many hailed the judges ruling concerning the obligation to refuse an unlawful order a victory for Jewish morality over crime and lawlessness. The words of his ruling were seminal:
“The distinguishing mark of a ‘manifestly unlawful order’ should fly like a black flag above the order given… not formal unlawfulness, hidden or half hidden, nor unlawfulness discernible only to the eyes of legal experts…. Unlawfulness appearing on the face of the order itself… Unlawfulness piercing the eye and revolting the heart, be the eye not blind nor the heart stony and corrupt, that is the measure of ‘manifest unlawfulness’ required to release a soldier from the duty of obedience.” (Gary D. Solis, The Law of Armed Conflict, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, p.360)Of course, there is another way to look at this ruling and its effect on history.
Danny Orbach writes at length about it on his blog. I will quote him here at some length as well.
... when we examine the story of the massacre, we discover that all of the actors in the tragedy behaved chaotically. No one relied on rules, laws and regulations. The murderers and perpetrators, along with the majority of officers who refused to commit such crimes, just felt that they are doing the right thing. Captain Yehuda Frankental, perhaps the real hero of the Kafr Qasim story, prevented massacre with his own hands, because he felt that the order is immoral. He had a clear sense of morality, righteousness and military honor, but neither he, nor anyone else, had a clue about the legal consequences of their actions.
The true legacy of Justice Benjamin Halevy is hence in promoting a legalistic approach to war. In his ruling, Halevy attempted to fashion criteria according to which every soldier could decide if his commands are legal or “manifestly illegal”. A soldier has to follow the law, which is naturally based on moral principles, never to shoot unarmed citizens. The severe punishments that he imposed, though shamefully mitigated by the political and military establishment, have set glaring rules for the future: thou shall not massacre civilians; thou shall not follow an order to massacre civilians. Atrocities, of course, were committed by Israeli troops also in subsequent wars, but an organized, cold-blooded massacre of unarmed civilians, as in Kafr Qasim, never repeated itself....
On the face of it, it may be naïve to argue that soldiers refrained from massacring civilians only because of a judicial ruling. However, a close reading of the testimonies shows, that the actors were not certain whether massacre of the unarmed is a crime or a duty. Even some of the officers who refused to commit murder were ashamed of their conduct in court. For all of these perplexed military men, Justice Halevy clarified what is the norm. Simultaneously, he legitimized the conduct of the soldiers who refused to shoot, and removed the shield of “following orders” from the perpetrators. The Army Chief of Staff, General Haim Laskov, whose responsibility for the outrageous paroles of the perpetrators was considerable, nevertheless reinforced the effect of Halevy’s ruling in a famous “order of the day”, in which he denounced the massacre and echoed Halevy’s doctrine of a “manifestly unlawful order.” Thus, the legalistic approach to war was allowed to take root in the Israeli armed forces.
We can see, therefore, that the Kafr Qasim massacre was followed by a struggle between two approaches to the rules of war. One chaotic, represented by the paroles given by Ben Gurion, the president and the Chief of Staff, and the other legalistic, as shown in the ruling of Justice Halevy. Even now, fifty five years after, these two approaches co-exist in Israeli political and military thinking.
It is impossible to conclude this article, without expressing some grave fears for the future. Supposedly, these who wish to forestall future massacres should reinforce the legalistic approach, while limiting the chaotic one to the possible minimum. However, in certain circumstances, legalism could be more dangerous and murderous than a chaotic state of affairs. Israel has never reached this abyss, but all of us know, based on our recent history, what happens when a country harnesses its legal institutions to promote an organized project of mass murder. The legalistic approach could, under certain circumstances, undergo a mutation and turn to be much more dangerous than its chaotic counterpart. The later can lead to horrendous, but relatively limited acts of violence. The former can result in organized mass murder at a bigger scale. Hence, there is nothing more destructive than murderous legalism.
So far that is not what has happened (although there are those in Israel pushes for it).
Still, it seems that while "massacres" are "illegal," occupation, repression, military rule, and murder are not. It seems that despite the ruling of some court, some military judge, it all goes on...and on.
The following article from +972 will explain that better than I.