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Israel allows police to withhold bodies of Palestinians

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 yesterday passed a law allowing police to withhold the bodies of alleged Palestinian assailants, legislation adopted in response to a previous High Court ruling that prohibited the practice without an explicit law permitting it.

Under the law, which passed 48-10, district police commanders can determine whether or not to release Palestinian bodies for burial, including the imposition of conditions on the families with regards to how the funeral and burial are conducted.

Meanwhile, Palestinian families demonstrated in Ramallah outside the Red Cross office, demanding the return of their relatives’ bodies which are being withheld by Israeli occupation authorities.

According to WAFA, the families demanded that Israel releases their relatives’ bodies so that they may be properly buried.

Read: Knesset approves bill banning handover of Palestinian corpses

“We are here to demand from the Red Cross and other international legal and human rights organizations to pressure the occupation authority to release the bodies of our martyrs so that we can bury them according to our religion,” said Mohammad Sbeihat, head of the Palestinian National Committee for Retrieving Bodies of Martyrs.

Sbeihat told WAFA that Israel is withholding 253 bodies of Palestinians killed since 1968, and 18 just since 2015.

“Withholding the bodies of the martyrs is unjustified, immoral and inhumane,” he said.

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