[News] After 325 days, Israel returns body of slain Palestinian Bahaa Elayyan to his family

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 2 13:19:49 EDT 2016

*After 325 days, Israel returns body of slain Palestinian Bahaa Elayyan 
to his family*

Sept. 1, 2016


Muhammad Elayyan makes the victory sign after the body of his slain son 
Bahaa Elayyan is released by Israeli authorities after being withheld 
for ten months, on Sept. 1, 2016.

Israeli authorities returned the body of Palestinian Bahaa Elayyan on 
Thursday at dawn, allowing his family -- which has been leading the 
movement advocating for Israel to release slain Palestinians' bodies -- 
to bury him 325 days after his death.

Elayyan, a 22-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of 
Jabal al-Mukabbir, was killed alongside another Palestinian after they 
attacked an Israeli bus on Oct. 13 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=768213>, killing three Israelis 
with knives and a gun.

His body was buried at the al-Mujahidin cemetery near the Old City of 
Jerusalem, in accordance with stipulations from Israeli police, which 
has allowed the release of bodies of slain Palestinians from East 
Jerusalem accused of "terrorism" on the condition that they no longer 
have funerals in their neighborhoods or villages 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771804>, but would instead be 
buried in cemeteries chosen by the police.

The stipulation comes amid a wider set of preconditions for the release, 
as only 25 people were allowed to attend Elayyan’s funeral, and his 
family was made to pay a 20,000 shekel ($5,292) “insurance fee” to make 
sure they abided by the rules.

Israeli forces were heavily deployed in the area ahead of the funeral, 
as attendees were searched three times at checkpoints and saw their 
phones confiscated during the burial. Israeli forces also reportedly 
prevented people who were not on the submitted list from entering the 

Israeli police also reportedly photographed people inside the cemetery.

“One of the most difficult moments in life is for parents to bury their 
children,” Muhammad Elayyan, Elayyan’s father, told reporters. “Israel 
holds the bodies of martyrs as a policy to punish parents and pressure 

A lawyer and activist, Muhammad Elayyan has spearheaded a movement by 
the families of slain Palestinians demanding that Israeli authorities 
return the bodies, said that his son’s body was severely altered by the 
long period of time it had spent frozen in Israeli morgues.

“Since the body was held in freezers for ten months, substantial changes 
occurred to Bahaa’s features and color,” Muhammad Elayyan said. “his 
eyes sunk inside his skull as if he did not have any, muscles atrophied 
and his skin peeled off easily.”

“It was difficult to identify him; except that I am his father and I 
know him well,” he added.

Muhammad Elayyan said that there were three bullet marks on Bahaa’s 
body, including one in the chest, near the heart.

The United Nations released a report in May stating that Israeli 
authorities have prohibited autopsies from being conducted on 
Palestinian corpses, and that the bodies were kept in poor and inhumane 
conditions, “stacked on top of each other.” 

“The bodies returned to the families are often disfigured, sometimes 
beyond recognition, denying the families the right to accord, with 
dignity, final religious rites,” the report read.

Nonetheless, Muhammad Elayyan said that he and Elayyan’s mother were 
able to say their last goodbyes to their son before the burial.

“We had loving moments with Bahaa and words would ruin these moments,” 
he said.

Mourners remembered Elayyan as a socially involved young man who was 
invested in cultural activities in East Jerusalem. He was described as a 
scout leader, the founder of an initiative called “Town’s Youth,” and 
one of the organizers of a “reading chain” 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=682006> around the walls of the 
Old City of Jerusalem in 2014.

Israeli authorities continue to hold the bodies of 12 slain Palestinians 
accused of committing attacks against Israelis, including including 
three women and two residents of occupied East Jerusalem, among them Abd 
al-Muhsen Hassuneh <http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769340>, 21, 
and Muhammad Abu Khalaf 
<https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=770351>, 20.

The families of the slain Palestinians have appealed the Israeli Supreme 
Court for months, with the court ruling in May 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771409> that all of the bodies 
of Palestinians held by Israel be released to their families before the 
start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in June.

However, after releasing the body of Alaa Abu Jamal, Israel’s Public 
Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered that Israeli police suspend the 
return of the bodies <http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771623> 
just a few weeks after the ruling, claiming that the funeral encouraged 
"incitement" against the state of Israel.

The families have since had to return to court to negotiate the release 
of their slain family members.

In early August, Israeli internal intelligence service Shin Bet 
announced that Elayyan’s body would be released imminently, only to 
backtrack on its decision the very same day 

In mid-August, Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestinian Committee of 
Prisoners’ Affairs, made a statement saying that Israeli authorities had 
approved the “gradual release” of slain Palestinian bodies 

Elayyan’s burial comes two days after Israeli authorities released the 
body of fellow Jerusalemite Thaer Abu Ghazaleh 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772908> for burial after 
withholding it for ten months.

Israeli authorities have dramatically escalated their policy of 
withholding slain Palestinian bodies 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=768641> since a wave of unrest 
swept across the Palestinian territory and Israel in October, during 
which time 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis and 32 Israelis 
have been killed by Palestinians.

Human rights organizations have widely condemned the policy, with 
prisoners’ rights group Addameer calling it a form of “collective 
punishment” against Palestinians who had not been accused of any 
wrongdoing, also noting that it “adds to the severe grief and trauma of 
families of the deceased.”

Muhammad Elayyan has been an outspoken advocate speaking up against the 
series of punitive measures carried out against the families of slain 
Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks against Israelis.

The Elayyan family home was demolished in January 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=769642>. In June, Muhammad 
Elayyan was detained by Israeli forces for several days for 
participating in protests 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772018> calling for the release 
of bodies.

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