Knesset passes law allowing police to hold terrorists’ bodies
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Knesset passes law allowing police to hold terrorists’ bodies

Legislation, which came in response to High Court ruling, permits authorities to delay burials over fears funerals could prompt further violence

Mourners carry the body of Mohammed Aqal, a Palestinian assailant killed after carrying out a stabbing attack on a Border Police officer, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Beit Ula on December 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/ Hazem Bader)
Mourners carry the body of Mohammed Aqal, a Palestinian assailant killed after carrying out a stabbing attack on a Border Police officer, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Beit Ula on December 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/ Hazem Bader)

The Knesset passed a law on Wednesday allowing police to withhold the bodies of Palestinian assailants who were killed while carrying out terror attacks from burial.

The law, which passed 48-10, came after the High Court of Justice in December ruled Israel could not longer use terrorists’ bodies as bargaining chips without legislation explicitly permitting the practice. The court gave the government six months to pass such a law.

Under the law, district police commanders can determine whether to release the terrorists’ bodies for burial. If there is a fear the terrorist’s funeral could be used to carry out an attack or provide a platform for praising terrorism, police may keep the bodies in custody until further notice, it says.

The law says terrorists’ funerals in recent years have featured praise of terrorism and incitement for further attacks.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan at a Likud party conference in Lod on December 31, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, whose ministry oversees police, said the practice of holding on terrorists’ bodies was disagreeable but necessary.

“The government doesn’t want to hold on to these bodies. As far as we are concerned the bodies of these cursed terrorists will rot. We have no need for them,” he said.

Erdan singled out for criticism the funerals of three Arab Israelis — all named Muhammad Jabarin — from Umm al-Fahm, who were killed after shooting dead two Israeli policemen in a terror attack in July at the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem.

“Since then the Shin Bet has already arrested two cells from Umm al-Fahm, some of [whose members] belonged to the Jabarin family, that wanted to carry out an attack on the Temple Mount,” he said.

The funerals in Umm al-Fahm on July 26, 2017 of the three terrorists who killed two Israeli police officers in a shooting attack on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 24, 2017. (Screenshot/Channel 10)

Joint (Arab) List MK Yousef Jabarin slammed the law as “delusional and draconian” and said it has no place in a “civilized country.”

“This is a delusional and draconian law of a delusional government. Bringing bodies to burial is the basic treatment that is expected from a state that declares itself to be a civilized country,” he said.

Fellow Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka accused Erdan of hypocrisy, claiming the public security minister supports murdering Palestinian children.

“Minister Erdan supported the murder of Palestinian children in Gaza and has chosen murder, and yet he boasts that he is against terror. All cultures, including Judaism, define the burial of the dead as a commandment and preventing the burial of the dead as a vile act,” he said.

The December court ruling was in response to a petition by a number of families of Palestinian assailants, whose bodies are currently being held by Israel.

Israeli security forces regularly take custody of terrorists’ bodies, both to delay the funerals and avoid a mass display of support for the terrorists, and with the intent of using them in negotiations to retrieve the bodies of Israeli soldiers, specifically those of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, whose remains are being held by the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip.

The justices did not outright forbid Israel from holding the bodies of Palestinian terrorists, only from doing so without a law dictating how it is to be managed.

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