The Diplomatic-Security cabinet of the Israeli government decided Sunday that bodies of slain Palestinians affiliated with the Hamas movement who were killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis will not be returned to their families, according to reports from Israeli media.
Israeli news website Arutz Sheva reported that the bodies will instead be buried inside Israel in a “graveyard for enemy dead,” and that the decision came as the cabinet “discussed ways to advance the return of the bodies of Israeli citizens and the bodies of two soldiers held by Hamas in Gaza.”
Hamas spokesperson Abed al-latif al-Qanou said in statement on Monday that the cabinet’s decisions regarding Hamas slain members were “racist” and “expresses the Israeli occupation’s aggression and savagery towards Palestinian people and prisoners.”
Israel will no longer return bodies of Palestinian Hamas militants https://t.co/Mfv4C3kOrl
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 1, 2017
According to Haaretz, the decision was reached “unanimously” as part of Israel’s attempt to “use Palestinian relatives of assailants to pressure Hamas to return the bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers in return for their loved ones.”
Hebrew media reports said the decision would be implemented as an official Israeli policy regarding the current Hamas-affiliated Palestinian bodies being held by Israel, as well as any similar cases in the future.
Israeli authorities have continued to hold the bodies of at least nine slain Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks against Israelis for between eight and three months.
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.”
PLO official Saeb Erekat has also urged the international community to pressure Israel to release Palestinian bodies held by Israeli, saying: “Israel’s collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead.”
(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)