Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition to release the body of slain Palestinian civilian Ahmed Erekat to his family.
Erakat, a 27-year old Palestinian, was shot and killed by occupying Israeli forces at a military checkpoint in the occupied East Jerusalem town of Abu Dis, in June 2020, on his way to his sister’s wedding.
Israeli Supreme Court approves continued holding of Ahmed Erekat's body by military. Adalah: Israel is committing a war crime by holding Palestinian bodies as hostages https://t.co/gGRzzYqbBW pic.twitter.com/9x4frZhQER
— Adalah (@AdalahEnglish) August 18, 2021
Video footage shows Erekat’s car crashing into a checkpoint and knocking over an Israeli officer. Israeli forces are then seen shooting the man when he is outside his car and does not appear to pose a threat to the soldiers.
His body has been held by the Israeli army since his killing, with lawyers and human rights watchdogs consistently calling for his release.
On Wednesday, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel to release Erakat’s body — filed on the behalf of his father, behalf of Mustafa Erekat.
More than a year after Israeli soldiers killed him on his sister's wedding day, Israel's Supreme Court has ruled not to return Ahmed Erekat's body to his family. Israel will continue to hold his body hostage, a routine Israeli practice. https://t.co/cUy5OvZRDf pic.twitter.com/JrlzwtPyJ2
— IMEU (@theIMEU) August 19, 2021
In the judgment, the two justices in the majority, Neil Handel and David Mintz, ruled that Israeli defense regulations allow the military commander to make decisions regarding the burial of the bodies of “terrorists or enemy casualties”, as bargaining chips to negotiate the release of bodies of Israeli soldiers.
However, Justice Yitzhak Amit, who was in the minority, ruled that the initial decision to hold the body was illegal and made without official authority since the army acted without a decision of the government.
Amit added that he was unconvinced by the “secret materials” presented by the army to the court in a closed hearing, to negotiating the return of prisoners and bodies of Israeli soldiers from Hamas.
Adalah deplored the court’s ruling as inhumane and in violation of international law.
‘Israel’ to continue hold Ahmed Erekat’s deceased body https://t.co/9usTbqJQXf
— Joe Catron (@jncatron) August 19, 2021
“Israel’s policy of holding Palestinian bodies 81 people since 2015 – is inhumane and degrading, and a blatant violation of international law, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” Adalah said in response to the ruling.
“The Court’s decision today gives a free hand to the military, without governmental authority, and retroactively approves such an illegal practice. Israel must immediately return the dozens of Palestinian bodies it currently holds,” the legal center added.
Erekat’s family began campaigning for his body’s release just days after his death.
(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)