RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat on Friday urged the international community to pressure Israel to release the bodies of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces while allegedly carrying out attacks.
The PLO Executive Committee's secretary-general made the call following separate meetings with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov, a Belgian parliamentary delegation, the Swiss and Cypriot foreign ministers, and Japan's representative to Palestine.
He said: "Israel's collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead."
On Tuesday, human rights groups Addameer and Adalah also called on the international community to "intervene and pressure the Israeli authorities to immediately release the bodies of Palestinians that are still being withheld."
The rights groups said Israel was holding the bodies of nine Palestinians, one of them for more than four months, in what they said was "a severe violation of international humanitarian law."
They said: "The withholding of the bodies also greatly adds to the grief, anxiety and trauma of the families who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, and who are also being denied their cultural and religious rights to mourn and to bury them in accordance with their faith."
The groups also said Israel's practice of withholding bodies "obstructs the possibility of conducting an investigation concerning the circumstances of the alleged extrajudicial executions and a proper autopsy."