The family of Ayat Al-Akhras upon recieving her remains on 2 February 2014

Two years ago today, Israel returned the remains of a girl 12 years after her death

PNN/ Bethlehem/

Two years ago today, on 2 February 2014, Israel returned the remains of Ayat Al-Akhras, the schoolgirl who carried an operative outside a Jerusalem supermarket in 2002, killing two Israelis.

Ayat, sister to ten siblings, and refugee who lived Deheisha camp in Bethlehem, was 18 years old back when she decided to blow herself up in occupied Jerusalem. She was also engaged to be married in July after she finishes school.

Her remains were detained in the number cemeteries for 12 years before returned to her family, following international anger and pressures from human rights groups.

A graffiti was drawn on a wall in Deheisha camp as a memorial for Ayat.
A graffiti was drawn on a wall in Deheisha camp as a memorial for Ayat. This photo was taken the night she was returned to the camp

At that time, Israel handed over some 30 bodies of Palestinian assailants, including that of al-Akhras, enabling her family to finally arrange a funeral.

Israel has returned the remains of Palestinian “attackers” sometimes as part of prisoner swaps, but at that time two years ago, Israel returned the remains of “suicide bombers and gunmen.”

Israeli retention of Palestinians’ bodies is still taking place to this day.

Since the start of October last year, Israel detained the bodies of over 50 Palestinians. The bodies are kept in refrigerators  and are returned individually after ranging periods of retention.

Of the 168 Palestinians who have been killed since October, ten bodies are still detained by Israel.

The collective number of body remains in the number cemeteries remains unknown, but reports show that the number is almost 200 bodies since the establishment of Israel in 1947.