Family members of slain Palestinians whose bodies are still being held by Israeli authorities staged a sit-in at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, under their campaign titled: “We want our sons”, demanding Israel return the bodies.
Participants in the sit-in held posters emblazoned with the phrase: “We want the martyr–” with the name of each Palestinian martyr, and the date he was killed printed underneath.
Muhammed Elayyan, father of Bahaa Elayyan, a Palestinian shot dead during an alleged car-ramming attack in October, said, “We are here today to remind all worshipers who came to Al-Aqsa that the bodies of the eight martyrs have been in (Israeli) refrigerators for months”.
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) June 24, 2016
“They were with us on days like these during the holy month of Ramadan (last year), and it is their right to be buried according to traditions”.
Eight bodies of Palestinians are still being held by Israel, six were from occupied East Jerusalem and two from the occupied West Bank.
Their family members staged a demonstration on Tuesday outside Israel’s Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine in Jaffa, where the bodies have being stored, some for as long as eight months.
Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces since a wave of protests erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October. Israel claimed funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state.
Whenever Israeli authorities have decided to return slain bodies, the ceremonies have been typically restricted by a long list of conditions imposed by Israeli authorities. These included limiting the number of attendees, the deployment of Israeli soldiers throughout the event, paying large amounts to the Israeli government as a collateral for potential “incitement” during the funerals, and burying the bodies in cemeteries chosen by the Israeli police.
A joint statement released by Addameer and Israeli minority rights group, Adalah, in March condemned Israel’s practice of withholding bodies as “a severe violation of international humanitarian law as well as international human rights law, including violations of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice culture”.