On October 29, 1956, on the eve of the joint Israeli, French and British invasion of Egypt, Israel moved up the time of the local curfew as it was concerned that nearby Jordan would enter the fighting. After the curfew ended, a platoon of Israeli border police (MAGAV) who had been sent to the area encountered and killed 49 villagers returning to Kafr Qasim from their work in the fields. Though the village head had been informed a half an hour before the military curfew started, he informed the Israeli commander that the fellahin and shepherds could not be notified in time that the curfew had been imposed.
The incident became known as the Kafr Qasim massacre.
In December 2007, President of Israel Shimon Peres formally apologised for the massacre. In 1959, the town was granted local council status by the Israeli Interior Ministry.