Withholding attackers’ bodies proves Israel a ‘terrorist entity’ - Palestinian Authority

- Arab rights group, Opposition lawmaker decry decision to withhold bodies of Palestinian attackers

-  Israel will no longer release the bodies of terrorists : Defense Minister

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett
The Palestinian Authority condemns Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s decision to withhold the bodies of Palestinian attackers, saying it proves that Israel is a “terrorist entity.”

Qadri Abu Bakr, the chairman of the PA’s Prisoners Affairs Commission, says Bennett’s announcement was “full of hate and extremism.”

“The world needs to take a real and clear stand against this entity, which proves day after day that it is a terrorist entity that acts against Palestine, its land and its people, amid the ongoing international failure to silence and stop its gross violations.”

An opposition lawmaker and a human rights organization are also denouncing Defense Minister’s decision to withhold the bodies of Palestinian assailants as a new deterrent against terrorism.

“Bennett is despicably politicizing a humanitarian issue, and that should be steadfastly opposed,” says Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen.

“Holding on to bodies and preventing immediate burial are immoral and violate international law. 

"This is what the occupation looks like: Land is stolen, torture is approved, homes are demolished, bodies of Palestinians are withheld and their relatives are collectively punished after they did nothing wrong.”

Arab Israeli rights group Adalah says it “denounces the minister’s announcement and the continuation of Israel’s inhumane and cruel policy on this matter.”

“Withholding bodies, whether as bargaining chips or as a method of deterrence or punishment, is contrary to the most basic humanitarian principles.”

According to Jpost Israeli Defense Minister said Israel will no longer release the bodies of terrorists, according to a new policy. This will be the case regardless of which terrorist organization the person belonged to.

Bennett instructed the IDF and the defense establishment on Tuesday to completely stop the release of terrorist bodies.

The decision came following a number of discussions that he held on the issue of deterrence with senior security officials.

Exceptions, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry, will only be made in extenuating circumstances and at the discretion of the defense minister.

The new policy will be introduced shortly in the security cabinet as part of a broader deterrence policy, and will come into effect after the cabinet's approval.

According to a political source, the policy change followed a request made to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the family of Lt. Hadar Goldin, whose body has been held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since 2014.

In a statement, the family said that they support Bennett’s decision.

"We are supporting the defense minister's decision. It is inconceivable that while the soldiers are in the hands of Hamas, we will continue to release dead or living terrorists. Freeing terrorists is a prize that Hamas cannot be given while holding on to our soldiers and civilians," they said.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu has pledged to us that a ceasefire will not take place without bringing the boys home – and we expect to see that the economic-civilian projects will not be promoted as long as our boys remain in Gaza."

"גורם מדיני" מצנן מעט את ההחלטה:
"מדובר בבקשה לשינוי מדיניות שעלתה ע"י משפחת גולדין בפגישתם עם רה"מ נתניהו בשבוע שעבר. בפגישה הביע רה"מ נכונות לשינוי, והנחה את מערכת הביטחון לבדוק את הנושא".

— יואב זיתון (@yoavzitun) November 27, 2019
While Israel continues to work for long-term ceasefire arrangement with Hamas through mediators like Egypt, the remains of two IDF soldiers killed in the 2014 war, Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, remain in the hands of Hamas in the Strip, despite years of their families begging both sides to return their sons for burial.
Two living civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, are also being held in the Gaza Strip.
Israel has repeatedly demanded the return of the bodies and the civilians in exchange for a full quiet in Gaza. But Hamas has repeatedly refused the demands, attempting to use all four as bargaining chips in negotiations for prisoner releases and to take advantage of the situation to make continued psychological warfare against Israel.
In January 2018, while the Knesset was debating a bill that would make it harder for the remains of terrorists to be given over for burial, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said that the policy of returning bodies encouraged terrorist attacks.
“There is no concept of respect for the dead when it comes to terrorists who killed people,” Erdan said.
MK Joseph Jabarin (Joint List) expressed strong criticism of the new policy.
"Bennett is contemptuously politicizing a humanitarian issue, and this must be firmly opposed," Jabarin said in a statement. "Holding bodies and preventing immediate burial is immoral and contrary to international law."

He accused the "Netanyahu, Bennett and [Bezalel] Smotrich government ... of stealing land, torturing [people], destroying homes and now holding Palestinians' bodies, thereby collectively punishing their relatives for their wrongdoing."

According to a statement released by Adalah, the human rights organization which represents the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops, Israel has been holding the bodies of 51 Palestinians since April 2016.

"The instructions issued by defense minister Bennett are an attempt to trade in the bodies of deceased persons, who are entitled to respect and burial,” said Attorney Hassan Jabareen, Adalah’s General Director. “No country in the world allows itself to hold and use bodies as a card for negotiation and political bargaining. These practices violate international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law, including the UN Convention against Torture, which absolutely prohibits such cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

In September 2019 the Israeli Supreme Court reversed an earlier ruling that said that the state had no authority to hold on to remains of Palestinians and that they must be immediately returned to their families for burial.

Under the 2019 ruling, the state may continue to hold bodies as emergency regulations allow for the military to order the interim burial of bodies designated as deceased enemies based on considerations for state security and the need to negotiate for the return of missing IDF soldiers.

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