Middle East Eye / February 22, 2022
Rights group DCI-Palestine says Israel’s policy violates international law and amounts to collective punishment.
Israel continues to withhold the bodies of nine Palestinian children its forces killed, in violation of international law, rights group Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI) said on Tuesday.
The group said that Israel’s practice of retaining bodies of Palestinian children, based on accusations they carried out stabbing attacks, is unlawful.
“Withholding bodies is a violation of both international law and human rights laws, which includes an absolute prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and stipulates that parties to armed conflict must bury the dead in an honorable manner,” the DCI said.
“It falls under the policy of collective punishment practiced by the [Israeli] occupation against the Palestinian people, and the harm caused to the families of the martyrs as a result amounts to collective punishment that violates international humanitarian law.”
Since 1967, Israel had also established cemeteries of numbers in closed military zones where it held the bodies of Palestinians and Arab citizens who were killed during the war or the struggle against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.
The nine Palestinian children named by the DCI were all under 18 at the time of their death, with the youngest being two 15-year-olds: Yousef Mohammad Odeh from Jenin and Mohammad Nidal Musa from Nablus.
The nine teenagers were killed as early as 2016 and as late as December 2021.
DCI said in December that 2021 was the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014, as Israeli forces killed 76 Palestinians under 18, 15 of them in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and 61 in the besieged Gaza Strip.
In Israeli jails, there are currently 180 Palestinian children imprisoned, according to Addameer, an NGO advocating for Palestinian detainees.