The body of a Palestinian terrorist killed while carrying out a deadly attack on a Jerusalem bus last year will not be returned to his family after they refused to comply with the Israeli conditions that he be laid to rest in a low-key funeral.
Israel Police on Sunday summoned Muhammad Allyan to a meeting, and offered to return the remains of his son Bahaa, if the family agreed to bury him in a private, late-night ceremony with only 15 people in attendance, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.
Israeli officials argue the funerals for the deceased attackers — who were killed as they stabbed, shot, or rammed Israelis with cars over the past 10 months — often turn into mass rallies in support of Palestinian terrorism, and withhold their bodies until the relatives agree to hold subdued burials that don’t include calls for further attacks.
According to the Allyan’s lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud, the East Jerusalem family declined to sign the agreement, citing the small number of mourners allowed to attend.
The offer was made following a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice by Mahmoud earlier this year on behalf of the Allyans and the family of another deceased Palestinian terrorist.
Last October, Bahaa Allyan and Bilal Abu Ghanem boarded a bus in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood armed with knives and a gun and murdered three Israelis. Police who arrived at the scene shot and killed Allyan. Abu Ghanem was injured in the shootout with police and was taken into custody. Last month, he was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences and an additional 60 years in prison for the murders of Haviv Haim, Alon Govberg, and Richard Lakin.
In the months following the attack, Allyan became a Palestinian symbol, and his father was reported to have lectured in various forums, including educational institutions, about his son’s “legacy.” In June, the senior Allyan was arrested over his suspected involvement with the Hamas terrorist group. The police investigation into Allyan appears to be ongoing.
In response to Mahmoud’s petition, the High Court of Justice last month ordered the Israel Police to explain why it was withholding the bodies of deceased East Jerusalem attackers and had not returned the remains to their families for burial. The court gave police three weeks from the July 23 ruling to deliver an explanation.
Earlier this year, the court intervened in a similar case, and ordered authorities to return the body of a Palestinian woman killed in May as she attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem.
At the time, police told the court they feared the funerals for the deceased attackers would turn into mass rallies in support of further terror attacks.
The practice has been implemented inconsistently, particularly as the bodies of terrorists who attacked Israelis in the West Bank are under the purview of the Defense Ministry, while those killed within Israel proper are under the jurisdiction of the Public Security Ministry.
The issue has become a sore point with Palestinians. Posters of the dead are plastered on walls in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and residents hold frequent demonstrations calling for the release of the bodies.
Since October, 35 Israelis and four foreign nationals have been killed in a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence. At least 214 Palestinians have been killed, some two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis, and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.