11/18/2016, 17.24
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Settlers and rabbis appeal for the return of the body of a young Palestinian

Some residents of Gush Etzion write to Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman calling for the return of Khaled Bahar’s body. The 15-year-old was shot dead during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians. The investigation found that he was not involved in the violence. For Palestinian activist, Israel has invented the post-mortem detention, which can be found nowhere else in the world.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank have appealed to Israel’s defence ministry to hand over the body of a Palestinian youth, shot dead by the army, to his family for burial.

This initiative of the Jewish settlers, supported by some rabbis, is a "positive step" because it goes in the direction of respect for the sacredness of the person "after death" and goes against a decision that "deeply humiliates" families, said Adel Misk, a Palestinian doctor and peace activist

Speaking to AsiaNews, the spokesman of The Parents Circle – an association that brings together some 250 Israelis and 250 Palestinians, all families of victims of the conflict – hopes that the spirit of the settlers’ letter “will reach the higher echelons of the government and that steps will be taken."

The authors of the appeal, a group of Jewish settlers, including seven rabbis, recently appealed to the Israeli Ministry of Defence to return the body of the young Palestinian man.

Residents of the settlement of Gush Etzion addressed their letter to Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, demanding that the remains of 15-year-old Khaled Bahar (pictured) be handed over to the family for burial.

Bahar was killed on 20 October when Israeli soldiers opened fire on Palestinian stone throwers, and a stray bullet hit the boy. The signatories of the letter say that the army investigation found that Bahar “apparently had nothing to do with the stone-throwers.”

Among the signatories were the poet Eliaz Cohen and Michal Froman, a young woman who was stabbed by a Palestinian assailant in January at a time when she was pregnant.

“We, inhabitants of Gush Etzion, with links to residents of Beit Ummar and neighbouring villages, ask that the family be allowed to bury the young man”, the letter reads.

The policy to withhold bodies is a form of collective punishment put in place by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman in the aftermath of last June’s Tel Aviv attack that left four people dead, and 12 wounded.

The minister’s decision has increased tensions in the area. For Adel Misk, Israel’s policy of detaining the bodies of Palestinians, whether terrorists or innocent victims, is "inhuman" and "unparalleled in the world".

"This is certainly not a barrier to or a deterrent to those who want to blow themselves up or attack Israeli civilians or soldiers”. This kind of punishment is, in his view, "absurd”.

“There are already thousands of (live) Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, but detaining dead ones is something that has no equal in the world."

He points out that "death should entail respect for anyone” regardless of religion or nationality. "Bodies must be returned to the families."

The letter by some settlers and rabbis, Adel Misk notes, is a sign of respect for the sacredness of the body, the more so since the 15-year-old Palestinian was an innocent victim.

The problem is the attitude of the Israeli government and authorities who through laws and measures –the latest being the bill to legalise land grabs – "want to trigger open confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians, turning this (political and territorial) conflict into a religious war."

Starting in October 2015, a series of provocations by ultra-Orthodox Jews who went to pray on the Temple Mount after Yom Kippur and Sukkot sparked violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

A year into the knife intifada has resulted in the death of 238 Palestinians, 36 Israelis, two Americans, a Jordanian, a Sudanese, and an Eritrean.

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