Martyr Elias Saleh: Bring Him Home
Yesterday in Salfit, the family and friends of the martyr, Elias Saleh, held a vigil. They demanded that the Israeli Occupation Forces return his body, which they have held for over a month. Israeli actions constitute a direct violation of international Law and Article 17, 120, 130 of the Geneva Convention that outline the criteria for treatment of enemy bodies. It is also against Israeli law. In 2017, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Israeli police must return the bodies of Palestinians, not only because it is International Law, but also because It is Israel’s own law.
“The justices ruled that “the police’s position conflicts with the need for detailed [legal] authorization for any action that harms a basic right. In our eyes, a number of basic rights hang here in the balance, first and foremost the right to human dignity.”” https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/9172
Elias Saleh, a 22 year old man from Bidiya village, was shot and killed by Israeli forces on October 15th and since then his family has tried, without success, to reclaim his body.
The Israeli government has been known to keep bodies of killed Palestinians in order to use them as bargaining chips. According to recent reports, Israel is holding around 250 bodies of Palestinians killed by their forces. Including 24 bodies that were killed in the First Intifada which began more than three decades ago, and others that date back to the seventies of the last century. Some of the bodies are believed to have been burned or buried, unmarked and unreturned, in Israeli secret cemeteries.
Hundreds of Palestinian families therefore have the double burden of mourning for their relatives’ sudden deaths and the inability to bury their bodies. In addition, they will be met with conditions if they reclaim the body of their relatives. They might have to agree to restrictions regarding the funeral; number of guests and timing for example. In many cases, the Israeli authorities have stipulated that bodies should be buried within an hour of release, often in the middle of the night. That prevents families from burying their loved ones according to traditions and prohibits them to request for an official autopsy. The reason the families are given are usually that returning the bodies could pose a security threat.