Wednesday, September 26, 2018
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Remains of four Palestinians buried by Israel

Palestinian Prisoners' Affairs lawyer says burials won't affect appeal demanding release of bodies held by Israel.

Palestinians buried

Israel has buried remains of four Palestinians in what is referred to as cemeteries of numbers - mass graves in undisclosed areas marked by numbers rather than names.

The burial is the latest session regarding the case of Palestinian bodies withheld by the Israeli army, the Israeli prosecution told the Supreme Court in Jerusalem.

The four buried Palestinians are: Abdelhamid Abu Srour, Rami Awartani, Mohammed Faqih, and Mohammed al-Tarayrah.

The court case held on Wednesday was supposed to reach a decision on whether or not the six bodies, most held for over a year, will be returned to their families for a final farewell and burial.

The case for the remains of the Palestinians was jointly submitted on behalf of their families by the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (JLAC) and the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

The remains of these Palestinians, who were killed after their alleged involvement in carrying out attacks against Israeli citizens, are withheld by Israel in what Issa Qaraqe, head of the Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, described as "vengeful" and an "ugly violation of all international and human laws."

The prosecution’s declaration was met with stunned anger and tears from the families, who were earlier optimistic that the judge would rule in favour of returning the remains of their loved ones.

"I don’t want to talk to the media or to any officials," said Mohammed al-Tarayrah’s father. "You are all useless and unscrupulous, and only remember to call us whenever it suits you."

His son’s body has been withheld by Israel since June 30 2016, when he entered the Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron and killed a settler.

In a statement, Mohammed Mahmoud, a lawyer from the Prisoners’ Affairs Authority, said that the Israeli Supreme Court postponed Wednesday’s session after the prosecutor’s statement.

Salwa Hammad, a spokeswoman and campaign coordinator for the national campaign for the recovery of the bodies of Palestinians, said that the prosecution’s statement will not affect the appeal demanding the release of the Palestinians’ remains.

"Today was supposed to be about the transfer of the bodies from the morgue to their families,” she said. “If Israel wanted to bury them they should have given their families the chance to say goodbye."

According to the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Authority, the decision to bury the bodies without the approval of Israel’s Supreme Court was a result of heavy political pressure on the military authorities.

This summer, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a ruling that stated the Israeli security forces had no authority to withhold bodies.

Palestinians believe that Israel is withholding the bodies as a bargaining chip to use against Hamas to release the remains of Israeli soldiers they allegedly are holding since the offensive on the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014.

The next court session will be closed to the public and will be held on Sunday, September 17.

Since the start of the October 2015 uprising that saw an uptake in individual Palestinian knife and car ramming attacks against Israelis, nine Palestinian bodies are withheld by Israel.

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