Human rights groups have slammed the country’s Supreme Court for allowing a delay in a decision on the state’s practice of withholding Palestinian bodies from their families.
On Monday, Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut accepted the Israeli authorities’ request to hold an additional hearing in a case involving the ongoing practice of holding the bodies of deceased Palestinians as bargaining chips for negotiations.
Israel is currently holding the bodies of 16 Palestinians as bargaining chips.
The Supreme Court had ruled last December that the state has no authority to withhold the bodies of Palestinians as bargaining chips, and that it must transfer bodies to the families for burial.
However, the state requested an additional hearing to challenge the ruling, and also requested that the bodies would not need to be returned until a final decision is reached.
Chief Justice Hayut granted both requests, and a hearing will take place in June.
Responding to these developments, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the Jerusalem Legal Aid Centre (JLAC), and the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs which represent the families, emphasised that:
The Supreme Court rendered a decision that makes Israel’s ongoing violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) possible. IHL prohibits the occupying power from holding bodies, and using them as bargaining chips.
“In addition, the Supreme Court’s decision further delays the transfer of the bodies for burial, thus giving a green light to the grave violation of the right of the families and the deceased themselves to a prompt and proper burial,” the statement continued.