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Israel's top court to discuss release of Palestinian bodies

April 4, 2016 4:15 P.M. (Updated: April 4, 2016 9:41 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Supreme Court has set April 18 for a hearing to consider an appeal launched by Palestinian families seeking the return of their relatives' withheld bodies.

Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer with Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, said he would use the hearing to press Israel's public prosecution to give a specific date for the bodies' release.

Last October, the Israel government began a policy of withholding the bodies of alleged attackers, in what rights groups decried as collective punishment of their families.

The policy was largely reversed in December, following concerns from Israel's security establishment that it was only further stoking tensions, although a number of bodies from the Jerusalem area continue to be held.

Last month, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat urged the international community to pressure Israel to release the bodies, saying: "Israel's collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead."

A joint statement released earlier this month by Addameer and the Israeli minority rights group Adalah condemned Israel’s practice of withholding bodies as "a severe violation of international humanitarian law as well as international human rights law, including violations of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice culture."
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