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Israel Supreme Court postpones decision over release of 6 slain Palestinians' bodies

Feb. 27, 2017 12:39 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2017 2:29 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli Supreme Court has agreed to a demand by the Israeli government to postpone a ruling regarding the return of the bodies of six Palestinians who died while committing or allegedly committing attacks on Israelis, according to a Palestinian committee dedicated to securing the release of the bodies to their families for burial.

The Israeli state has also demanded that the court back down from a decision made in June agreeing to release the body Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour.
Israel’s security cabinet said last month that the body of Abu Srour, along with those of two other slain Palestinians -- Muhammad Tarayra and Muhammad al-Faqih -- would not be returned to their families due to their alleged affiliation with the Hamas movement, and that they would instead be buried inside Israel in a “graveyard for enemy dead.”

Israel considers the bodies to be a bargaining chip that could be used in a future exchange deal with Hamas, the de facto rulers of the besieged Gaza Strip, where the bodies of two Israeli soldiers are believed to be held.

Muhammad Elayyan, a member of the legal committee established to recover the bodies and the father of slain Palestinian Bahaa Elayyan, said during a committee meeting on Sunday that the Israeli Supreme Court had postponed looking into the combined cases of all six bodies until March 22.

It remained unclear under what grounds the bodies of Fadi al-Qunbar, Muhammad Nabil Zeidan, and Rami Awartani remained held, and how their cases could be combined with the three Hamas-affiliated Palestinians.

According to Elayyan, the Israeli general prosecution already stated on Thursday that the decision not to release the bodies of Abu Srour, Tayara, and al-Faqih remained unchanged.

During Sunday’s meeting, the committee for retrieving the bodies discussed steps to be taken in challenge the state’s decision, and scheduled a press conference in Bethlehem for March 11, when an action will also be staged to put pressure on Israel to release the bodies.

A joint statement released by Addameer and Israeli minority rights group Adalah in March 2016 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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