Occupied Palestine/ PNN/
Israeli Supreme Court decided to approve the continued hold of Ahmed Erekat’s deceased body by the Israeli occupation forces, a step called by Adalah- The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel- as an illegal practice.
The Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition filed by Adalah on behalf of Mustafa Erekat, against the Israeli force’s continuous hold of the deceased body of his son, Ahmad Erekat.
27-year-old Palestinian Ahmad Erekat was shot and killed by Israeli occupation forces at the “Container” checkpoint on 23 June 2020 between Bethlehem and the Erekats’ family home in the town of Abu Dis, outside of occupied East Jerusalem, while on the way to pick up his mother and sister on her wedding day.
Erekat was shot six times – three while on the floor – then denied medical attention while still moving despite posing no threat to the heavily armed Israeli forces.
Israeli authorities falsely claimed Erekat had tried to ram Israeli forces with his car.
After the first hearing on the petition, the Supreme Court issued an order nisi on 22 July 2020, instructing the respondents to explain why they would not hand over Erekat’s body to his family as soon as possible.
In September 2020, the state informed the Court that there was a change in policy and that Palestinian bodies would be held “unrelated to organizational affiliation.”
Following this announcement, Adalah filed an amended petition arguing that the new policy was unconstitutional and contradicted the 2004 position of the Attorney General and prior rulings of the Supreme Court.
Adalah further contended that the new policy should not apply to Erekat since it was made months after his body was held.
At a hearing held on 8 March 2021, Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher argued that the new policy was not only disproportionate but also violated international human rights and humanitarian law, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
“Israel’s policy of holding Palestinian bodies – 81 people since 2015 – is inhumane and degrading, and a blatant violation of international law, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” said Adalah.
“The Court’s decision today gives a free hand to the military, without governmental authority, and retroactively approves such illegal practice. Israel must immediately return the dozens of Palestinian bodies it currently holds.”
“Withholding the body of a deceased individual from his or her family violates the International Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Israel is a State Party.”
Indeed, the United Nations Committee Against Torture called on ‘Israel’ in June 2016 to take all necessary steps to return bodies to families for burial as soon as possible. The Rome Statute prohibits the “taking of hostages”.