Israel buries Palestinians in numbered graves

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Israeli authorities returned April 22 the physique of Youssef Abu Jazar, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was killed on the Gaza border with Israel whereas collaborating within the return marches known as for by Palestinian factions between March 30, 2018, and December 2019.

Jasser Abu Jazar, Youssef’s father, mentioned his son was shot lifeless on April 29, 2018, throughout one of many the peaceable marches, noting that the Israeli military had detained his physique for 3 years. The household was knowledgeable in regards to the demise of their son by the Israeli military by way of the Palestinian liaison workplace the day after his killing.

Jasser instructed Al-Monitor, “We never lost hope of getting his body back, although three years have passed since his death. Today we celebrate his return by throwing flowers at him. We will bury him in Gaza so that we can visit him at any time.”

Youssef was kindhearted and appreciated to play and have enjoyable, his father mentioned. “He always told me and his mother about his dream of going to university outside the Gaza Strip, but Israel killed his dream. What would push Israeli soldiers to kill a child who is not part of any military faction and was peacefully participating in the marches?”

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza had a key function in recovering Youssef’s physique. The heart submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court final September to this finish.

Jasser mentioned, “On April 21, the family was surprised by an Israeli summons sent to Youssef’s mother and sister to appear at the Beit Hanoun checkpoint in the northern Gaza Strip to conduct a DNA test in order to receive Youssef’s body. There, they were told the body would be delivered the next day.” 

The detention of Youssef’s physique shone gentle on the difficulty of Israel’s “cemeteries of numbers.” The graves of Palestinians buried in these cemeteries bear a steel plate marked with an identification quantity, as an alternative of a reputation. Each quantity refers to a file on the slain Palestinians that’s stored by the Israeli safety companies. Some of the our bodies withheld by Israel are stored in fridges and others are positioned in covert stone graves with identification numbers. Israel makes use of these our bodies as a bargaining chip in negotiations for prisoner swap offers with the Palestinians.

Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, head of the Department of Statistics on the Commission of Detainees And Ex‑Detainees Affairs and a member of its follow-up committee within the Gaza Strip, instructed Al-Monitor, “Israel’s detention of Palestinian bodies contravenes all international laws and norms. This is an Israeli tactic used to gain leverage in swap deal negotiations with the factions or the Palestinian Authority [PA], or to bargain over a piece of information.”

He added, “This is a punishment after death. It is a policy that aims to take revenge on the families of the victims. It is also a collective punishment aimed to deter Palestinians from acts of resistance.”

According to Ferwana, Israel is holding the our bodies of quite a few Palestinians. “Thanks to legal and human rights efforts, sometimes bodies would be delivered in a matter of hours or days. However, Israel still manages to keep some bodies for months or even years,” he mentioned.

According to the National Campaign for Retrieval of the Bodies of Palestinian and Arab War Martyrs established in 2008, knowledge from 2019 offered by the households of the victims and the Palestinian factions with which the victims had been affiliated confirmed that Israel detained about 400 our bodies. About 131 of them had been returned to their households and 253 our bodies are nonetheless being held within the cemeteries of numbers.

These embody 66 Palestinians who had been killed in and after 1967; their destiny stays unknown. Among them are additionally seven our bodies of prisoners who had been killed in Israeli prisons.

Several earlier negotiations led to the retrieval of among the our bodies, together with offers with the Lebanese Hezbollah between 1996 and 2005 that led to the discharge of about 231 Arab and Palestinian our bodies. The PA additionally succeeded in 2005, by way of political and authorized efforts, to get better 15 our bodies. It acquired the stays of 91 Palestinians in 2012. 

On Sept. 3, 2020, Israel’s safety Cabinet handed a movement to withhold the our bodies of all Palestinians slain in alleged assaults in opposition to Israel. Former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and authorities, safety and judicial authorities had issued comparable selections.

Ferwana mentioned these selections present that the detention of our bodies was by no means an distinctive occasion or a transient scenario, however relatively a relentless and arranged coverage. “Israel made no distinction as to the nationalities of the bodies, whether the victims were Arab or Palestinian, or to the circumstances in which they were killed. For instance, the body of Dalal al-Maghribi has been detained for more than 40 years. Israel also still holds the body of Anis Dawlah who died in Ashkelon prison in 1980,” he added. 

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, mentioned that his motion provides utmost precedence to recovering these our bodies inside the scope of its efforts to conclude prisoner swap offers with Israel. “Hamas believes Palestinians are entitled to a proper burial in line with social traditions. We have raised this issue more than once, but Israel showed an unwavering intransigence. Hamas will keep this issue on its agenda and will exert all efforts to release the current prisoners and the bodies of victims withheld in the cemeteries of numbers,” Qassem famous.

Although the variety of these cemeteries and the areas of the fridges that maintain the our bodies are unknown, Israeli media sources revealed over the previous years there are 4 such cemeteries. One is positioned near Jisr Benat Yakub, near the Jordan River, and one other is positioned in a closed navy space between Jericho and Jisr ed-Damiye within the Jordan Valley. The third one, referred to as the Cemetery of Refedeem, lies within the Jordan Valley, and the Cemetery of Shuheitar is positioned near the Wadi Hamam village, north of Galilee between Mount Ariel and the Sea of Galilee.