Israel’s Decades-long Policy of Holding Palestinian Bodies

Unlike other cases, only 25 people are allowed to attend the funeral of Alkalouti. (Photo: via MEMO)

Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian dead, and its impact on the living, is being questioned once again as the government continues to withhold the bodies of 22 Palestinians killed following attacks on Israelis during the month of October.

The refusal to turn over the dead to their families — a policy that Israeli authorities supposedly halted near the end of the Second Intifada — has provoked controversy among Israeli officials and led tomass protests in the occupied West Bank.

A total of 33 Palestinian bodies were held by Israel during October, and eleven have since been returned, according to the Palestinian National Committee for Retrieving Bodies of Martyrs.

The majority of those held killed or injured Israeli military and civilians in attacks, while the actual involvement of others in attacks at the time of their death has been disputed by the United Nations and Amnesty International.

Last week Hebron’s joint funeral of five Palestinians — all under the age of 18 — brought thousands of mourners to the streets in what the Israeli leadership termed “a nationalistic event.”

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon — who initially approved the release last week after the bodies were deemed a “burden not an asset” — said Sunday that the Palestinian Authority failed to uphold a deal with Israel prohibiting mass funerals for returned bodies, according to Israeli media.

Yaalon reportedly said during a security cabinet meeting that he temporarily decided to stop the turnover of Hebron’s Palestinians, and that if the PA reneged on promises to prevent mass funerals, Israel would not return the remaining bodies and bury them inside of Israel.

Neck deep in popular resentment, any potential capacity of the PA to quell the turnout at funerals would likely result in already billowing frustrations towards the body’s cooperation with Israel.

– Read more: Israel’s Decades-long Policy of Holding Palestinian Bodies – Emily Mulder, Ma’an

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