Looking back at the 1956 Khan Yunis massacre

1956 Khan Yunis massacre
(Photo: Twitter/X)
GAZA – The city of Khan Younis and Gaza as a whole are going through a difficult period due to the ongoing Israeli war of extermination on the Gaza Strip since October 7th. These moments have resurfaced one of the most horrific crimes and massacres committed by Israel in Gaza: the massacre known as the "Khan Younis massacre," which took place in 1956.اضافة اعلان

As reported by Al Ghad newspaper, this massacre, carried out in two phases, resulted in the deaths of more than 250 Palestinians. The first massacre took place on November 3, 1956, where over 250 Palestinians lost their lives.

Nine days after the initial massacre, on November 12, 1956, an Israeli unit carried out another brutal massacre in the same camp, claiming the lives of around 275 civilians. Additionally, more than a hundred Palestinians from Rafah refugee camp lost their lives on the same day.

This massacre occurred in the context of the tripartite attack on Egypt. In 1956, the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, a vital waterway allowing trade between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea. This decision threatened the interests of major powers, particularly Britain and France, which were determined to foil Nasser's decision, even if it meant aggression against Egypt.

Indeed, in a secret meeting held in Sevres on October 24, 1956, Britain, France, and Israel agreed to launch a three-pronged attack against Egypt. The attack began with an Israeli strike on Egyptian positions in the Sinai Peninsula on October 29 of the same year.

Taking advantage of the ceasefire declared on November 2, the Israeli occupation invaded Rafah and the Gaza Strip, which was under Egyptian authority at that time. Responding to the resistance initiated by the people of Khan Younis, the Israeli occupation forces shelled the city, resulting in devastating civilian casualties, paving the way for one of the worst massacres in Gaza.

The phases of the massacre and the brutality that followed
The first phase of the massacre started with the distribution of leaflets from aircraft warning the population against resisting Israeli forces. Then, Israeli military vehicles moved through the streets of Khan Younis, demanding that males aged 16 to 50 exit. While soldiers indiscriminately fired on the gathered crowds in public squares, those who stayed in their homes were not spared and were killed in front of their families.

The second phase, which occurred nine days after the initial massacre, involved the brutal killing of hundreds of Palestinians. On November 12, 1956, an Israeli army unit carried out another massacre, claiming the lives of around 275 civilians in the same camp.

Following the massacre's victims was similar to the first massacre, through loudspeakers and pamphlets instructing civilians to leave the city, before the occupation forces treacherously killed over 275 Palestinians, leaving their bodies scattered in the area. The massacre did not stop in Khan Younis, as the Israeli occupation killed more than a hundred other Palestinians from Rafah refugee camp on the same day, extending the atrocity to the outskirts of Bani Suheila in Rafah.

The aftermath
The imposed curfew on Gazan citizens led to the corpses of the massacre's victims remaining outdoors and under debris for a long period. The Palestinians were prohibited from retrieving the villagers' bodies, and the bodies were left scattered around the area.

After the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Sinai in March 1957, a mass grave was discovered near Khan Younis, containing the bodies of 40 Palestinian men who had been shot in the back of the head.

The savagery of the massacre is indescribable, with the remaining victims of the Khan Younis massacre staying under the rubble of their homes and villages for decades. Some victims of the massacre were found in 2003, 47 years after the Khan Younis massacre was committed.

The United Nations documented the death of only 250 Palestinians in Khan Younis and did not address the massacre committed by the occupation against civilians or hold anyone accountable. Consequently, no legal memos were filed to hold any of the occupation leaders accountable for committing war crimes from the time of the massacre until now.

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