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Rights group says Israel currently holding 19 bodies of slain Palestinians

Feb. 9, 2018 2:27 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 13, 2018 1:03 P.M.)
Palestinian mourners carry body of an 18-year old Palestinian woman who was shot by Israeli forces after allegedly trying to stab a soldier(AFP, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli government is currently holding the bodies of 19 slain Palestinians killed in the past two years, along with 260 bodies of those killed since 1967, according to a Palestinian human rights group.

Director of the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) Issam Arouri told the Voice of Palestine radio station that Israeli forces continue to withhold the remains of 260 slain Palestinians buried in the so-called “cemetery of numbers” in Israel, in addition to holding the bodies of 19 Palestinians, who were killed by Israeli forces since 2016, in morgues.

The latest bodies to have been taken by Israeli forces were the bodies of 19-year-old Hamzeh Zamaareh and Ahmad Nasser Jarrar, 22, who were killed earlier this week.

Israel dramatically increased its policy of withholding bodies since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015, although it has scaled back on the policy in recent months.

Israel has long had “cemeteries for the enemy dead,” also referred to as “cemeteries of numbers,” where Palestinians who died during attacks on Israelis are held in nameless graves marked by numbers.

Israel has attempted to negotiate the release of Palestinian bodies as well as several Hamas affiliates detained from the Gaza Strip in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.

A joint statement released in 2016 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."

During his interview with Voice of Palestine, Arouri said that “Israel was the only country in the world that withholds the bodies of slain people for bargaining purposes or sets conditions on funerals for releasing them to their families.”

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