The following testimony by Abu Ayyoub was written down by me, Samia A. Halaby, on October 7th,
1999, at his home in Kafer Qasem. With me was Hakim Rabi of Kafr Qasem whose help in
obtaining this interview was invaluable. I asked Abu Ayyoub to relate his memory of the
“My name is Jamal. I was with a group of 26 on the day of the massacre, October 29, 1956.
Yesterday I went to the graveyard and saw the names of my friends and I cried and cried and
cried. This month of October is always hard for me. I stood there in the cemetery as though
for the first time and read their names and suddenly their faces came back to me. I remember
that we worked always together side by side. We celebrated and socialized together in each
other’s homes. We laughed together. I felt their old youthful presence and began to cry
and then I cried uncontrollably missing bitterly the big part of my life that they were.
We were working four kilometers away from Kafr Qasem. The company rented
space from Kafr Qasem. Most of us were poor workers at the company. Two children
came running at 4:55 to get us. They were 9 and 7 years old, Raja and Riyad. Thirty
women went home walking. There were 30 women working with us and we were all talking
about the curfew and the danger. We had had experience with the British and their cruel
and destructive curfews. We did not imagine shooting and a brutal massacre. We were all
exhausted. You know how you feel after a long day of work – tired and anxious to get home.
I went to change from my work clothes. While I was changing the 30 women left on foot.
They avoided the massacre and got home safely. “They avoided the massacre and got home
safely. I thought that probably because they could hear the shooting and took to the fields
thus avoiding the border police on the roads.
We the men gathered to go home walking. We were a group of 26 men. We began
walking. Later I saw my two uncles on the road and one had a pool of blood under his
head. My two uncles, my father’s two brothers, had left earlier on bicycles. As we
started walking and had gone twenty meters, we suddenly heard gunshots and so we returned.
A truck came and the driver saw us and stopped. Atta Yacoub was the driver, and seated
next to him in the cab was another man. I think his name was Abdalrahman Samir. Twenty
six of us got onto the truck. As we approached Kafr Qasem, we saw three Israeli soldiers
standing and armed one behind a Bryn on two legs and one had an Oozy and the other a gun.
They ordered us to get down. When they began to shoot some fell in their place and some
began to scatter. I heard sound I’ve not heard before. I heard groans. I heard people
saying things I did not expect -- all kinds of strange things.
Under the truck was a hanging platform and on it was the spare tire. Between the
tire and the bottom of the truck’s bed was a small space. I crawled into it and many others
crawled under the truck to escape, and there was desperate pushing. The Israelis peeked
under the truck and shot everyone. But I survived. I was frozen. When they finished the
shooting they pulled the bodies into a pile and moved the truck parking it perpendicular to
the road on one side of the road.
When they finished all this they sat on the ground resting their back on the truck's
rear end. They were so close to me that I could have extended my hand and touched their
backs. They were smoking and laughing.
When later a truck full of women arrived, the three Israeli border guards stopped the
truck by shooting the tires to ribbons. I heard the women saying,
“mutna ya banat” (Sisters, we are dead). I heard the women screaming. They first pulled
out the driver and his companion and shot them. Then they began killing the women. I
heard screaming and shooting in uneven waves.
I wanted to move to get out from under the truck but I could not move. My leg seemed to
be bent under me in an unnatural way, and as much as I wanted to get out, and as much as
I was terrorized by what I heard and partly saw of the killing of the women, I could not
move one bit. I was frozen. When the shooting and the screaming stopped I heard a new
wave of uneven shooting and then even the groaning stopped.
The Israelis then pulled the women into a pile and repositioned the truck in the same
way as the first but on the other side of the road. And after some time a jeep arrived
with some other Israelis who appeared to be in charge. The Israeli killers asked them
what they should do with the bodies, then they suggested that they could either take
them and throw them in the sea or burn them. They were told to stay put and wait.
Finally soldiers came and began placing the bodies into their vehicles. Suddenly I
saw a gun pointed at me. They were examining under the truck and began pulling me out. I
realized that I was trying to save myself by hugging the body of the border police
who wanted to shoot me. Once I had grabbed him, I found that again I was completely
unable to move. I seemed to turn into stone again and as much as the soldiers with him
tried to persuade me that I was safe and that no one was going to shoot me, I could not
move and they could not pry me off him.
An Arab came and the soldiers said here is another Arab go with him, but I could not move
and they could not persuade me. The Arab man pleaded with me saying that I could
grab and hug him and let go the Israeli soldier, but I could not move. Finally they
separated us and three men carried me to my home, and I found a lot of people in my home.
I had thought that they had killed everyone in Kafr Qasem. I was surprised and happy to
see my family. The people were listening to one of the two radios in the town. They were
radios which operated on batteries as there was neither electricity nor running water in
the town. I could not talk or move or answer any questions. They put me in bed and my
mother undressed me and brought something special to rub my entire body and sat with me
and I stayed in bed for a while until the next day, I think."
Web posting and translation: Samia A. Halaby, September 2006.
Copyright, Samia A. Halaby, 1998, All rights reserved. To request permission to reproduce
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