Israeli occupation authorities today handed over the body of slain Amjad Abu Sultan, a 16-year-old Palestinian minor who was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in the town of Beit Jala in the occupied West Bank last month.
The child’s body was released by the Israeli occupation military and handed over to his family at Jaba’a military checkpoint, southwest of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank after the body had been withheld since his killing by the Israeli military and for no reason.
The body of the slain 16-year-old boy, who hails from the Gaza Strip, has been withheld by the occupation authorities ever since his killing by Israeli soldiers near a military checkpoint in Beit Jala on October 15.
Over the last four years, the Israeli occupation authorities have escalated the practice of withholding the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces, claiming that funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against Israel.
Israel has long been condemned by human rights advocates for its policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians killed by its forces during alleged attacks on Israelis.
International law considers the practice a violation of human rights. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 state that the parties of an armed conflict must bury the deceased in an honorable way, and “if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged and that their graves are respected, properly maintained, and marked in such a way that they can always be recognized”.
In September 2020, the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) said Israel was withholding the bodies of at least 67 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since 2015 until the time of the update last year.
In 2017, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the state has no legal basis to withhold bodies, but reversed course in 2019 and upheld the government’s policy to withhold bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation troops.
According to JLAC and Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, an NGO, Israel is the only country in the world that has a policy of confiscation of human remains, where it relies on regulations dating back to 1945 (during the British Mandate) as grounds for its policy.