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Knesset approves bill banning handover of Palestinian corpses

Palestinians carry the dead bodies of 15 year old Palestinian Aws Salame and 20 year old Saad Salah, who were killed by Israeli forces during a raid to Jenin Refugee Camp, in Jenin, West Bank on 12 July, 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians carry the dead bodies of 15 year old Palestinian Aws Salame and 20 year old Saad Salah, who were killed by Israeli forces during a raid to Jenin Refugee Camp, in Jenin, West Bank on 12 July, 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee approved on Monday the first reading of a bill which is intended to prevent the authorities from handing over the bodies of Palestinians killed by the occupation forces for burial by their families, Quds Press reported on Tuesday. The bill, which was initiated by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, received preliminary parliamentary approval on 27 February, passing by 57 votes to 11; the remaining MKs abstained.

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According to Quds Press, the authorities fear the possibility that funerals of Palestinians killed by the Israelis will lead to incitement against Israel. In order to prevent this, the bill also provides a number of conditions which must be fulfilled before funerals may be held. These include limiting and identifying the participants in the rites, identifying the route, date and time of the funeral procession, restricting the items which may be carried and imposing financial deposits to ensure that all conditions are met. Only the Supreme Court would have the authority to question or challenge police orders on such matters.

The bill, which needs another two readings before becoming law, comes in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on the petition requesting the Israeli police to hand over the bodies of three Israeli-Arab citizens, who killed two policemen last year.

Read: Israel will not return body of murdered fisherman to hide its crime, father says

Israel has blocked the release of the bodies of at least 253 Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs, including 16 since October 2015. Observers point out that Israel uses this issue to put pressure on the Palestinian resistance and has recently been trying to use it as a lever in the efforts to have the soldiers captured whilst on active service in Gaza repatriated.

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