Families of Slain Palestinians Still Held by Israel Protest Outside Mortuary in Jaffa

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Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 22 June 2016| 16 Ramadaan 1437

Jerusalam – Family members of slain Palestinians whose bodies are still held by Israeli authorities protested on Tuesday outside of Israel’s Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine in Jaffa where the bodies are being stored. They called Israel’s policy of withholding Palestinian bodies “a crime of torture for the dead and the living.”

As parents held up signs emblazoned with the names of their children and the dates they were killed, the slain bodies, only a few meters away, lay inside locked refrigerators in Israel’s mortuary, withheld from the families since the day they were killed by Israeli forces.

Demonstrators could be seen clutching signs that read “no to collective punishment,” and “we want our children,” as others raised a white sheet etched with the names of all Palestinian bodies currently being held by Israel.

The family members who attended the demonstration were mostly Palestinians with Israeli citzenship or East Jerusalem residency, as Palestinians from the occupied West Bank are not freely permitted to enter Israel or East Jerusalem until age 55 for men and age 50 for women.

The demonstrators were accompanied by Head of the Palestinian follow-up committee in Israel Muhammad Baraka, in addition to several Palestinian members of Israel’s parliament.

Baraka addressed the crowd of grieving demonstrators, saying “the policy of holding the bodies of killed Palestinians aims to take revenge on the martyr and his family and to break the will of [Palestinian] families.”

The father of Bahaa Elayyan, a Palestinian shot dead during an alleged attack in October, also spoke at the protest: “Today we are standing near our martyred children and taking part in this sit-in, confirming [to the world] that we are one nation and that we were not divided by Israel.”

Elayyan said that months had passed since their children were killed, without any information provided from medical, journalistic, or police reports that could confirm the narrative that was given to them by Israeli authorities following the killing of their children.

He demanded that international rights organizations intervene in the situation and reveal to them the conditions of the bodies in order that families can know the truth of what happened to their children, adding that the end of Israel’s policy of withholding slain Palestinian bodies represents a “national fight.”
The bereaved father added that this is a crime of torture for the dead and the living. It is a war crime.

Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces since a wave of unrest erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory in October, having repeatedly claimed that funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state.
However, following an uproar of protest among Palestinians over the policy, Israeli authorities began rescinding the practice.

Following an incident in Tel Aviv earlier this month, newly appointed Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued an order to suspend the return of slain Palestinian bodies, claiming it had sent the “wrong message” to Palestinians, and that halting their return could prevent future attacks against Israelis.
Despite this, Israeli authorities agreed to return several Palestinian bodies to their families within the same week of Lieberman’s order however; an exact date of their return has yet to be confirmed.

In the past, when Israeli authorities have decided to return a slain body and permit a funeral in the occupied Palestinian territory, the ceremonies have been restricted by a long list of conditions imposed by Israeli authorities, including limiting the number of attendees and the deployment of Israeli soldiers throughout the event.

Palestinian families have also been forced to pay large financial deposits to the Israeli government, which act as collateral for potential “incitement” during the funerals and ensures families abide by Israeli-imposed conditions.

Source – Maan News
Photo credit – Maan News