Negating High Court Decision, Israeli Public Security Minister Seeks Suspension of Return of Palestinian Bodies

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25 May 2016

Negating High Court Decision, Israeli Public Security Minister Seeks Suspension of Return of Palestinian Bodies

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan to suspend the return of bodies of extra-judicially executed Palestinians after alleged incitement during a funeral. The Israeli government had set conditions for the release of deceased Palestinians, including financial guarantees, restriction on the numbers of the attendees, designation of the locations of the burials and prohibition on  the use of electronic devices. The decision to suspend the return of bodies came after Erdan criticized the presence of a large number of people following the burial of Alaa Abu Jamal, 22-year old from Jabal Al Mukabber, who extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces on 13 October 2015.

However, according to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association Adv. Mohammad Mahmoud, who was present during Abu Jamal funeral, the family did meet the conditions of burial, including the number of attendees not exceeding 50 people. Erdan’s proposal would override the Israeli High Court decision of 5 May 2016, which recommended the return of nine bodies of Jerusalemite Palestinians before the holy month of Ramadan. The Israeli government has been withholding the bodies of extra-judicially executed Jerusalemite Palestinians since the beginning of October 2015, following escalating unrest.

Addameer considers the practice of the withholding of the  bodies to be a form of collective punishment and violation of the right to dignity, freedom to practice culture and freedom of religion. The withholding of the bodies adds to the severe grieve and trauma of families of the deceased and obstructs the possibility of investigations through forensic autopsies in order to establish the circumstances of the killings. Following Erdan’s decision, Addameer’s Attorney Adv. Mohammad Mahmoud has submitted an appeal to the public prosecutor to interfere.

In its concluding observations on the fifth periodic report, the UN Committee Against Torture, called upon the Israeli authorities to “to return the bodies of the Palestinians that have not yet been returned to their relatives as soon as possible so they can be buried in accordance with their traditions and religious customs, and to avoid that similar situations are repeated in the future” (paragraph 43).