Israel 'withholding Ahmed Erakat's body', family warns
Ahmed Erekat, 27, was driving from his hometown of Abu Dis to Bethlehem to pick up his mother and sister from a salon ahead of his sibling's wedding that evening.
Israeli police allege he attempted to ram his car into border guards at the "container" checkpoint, and shot him dead.
His family has denied all claims, saying Erakat lost control of his car and was driving too slowly to carry out an intentional ramming.
A video of Erekat's lifeless body lying next to his car was quickly circulated on social media, causing uproar from international supporters of Palestine. The video showed Israeli soldiers step over the body while his blood flowed across the road.
His uncle, Saeb Erakat, also General-Secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) announced on Saturday that Ahmed’s body has yet to be released by Israel.
“For the 5th day the Israeli authorities still jail Ahmed Erakat’s dead body not allowing us to bury him like what all humans do when their loved ones die,” he tweeted.
He called on the international community to pressure Israel to release his body for a fast burial - a vital tradition for Muslims.
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“He was murdered June 23ed [sic] This is not who we are as human beings. This is not our values. Help us release Ahmed’s body.”
Withholding corpses, a common tactic by Israel, has been regularly denounced by Palestinians as inhumane, saying it is a form of psychological warfare and collective punishment.
Making it 'legal' to confiscate Palestinian corpses
In March 2018, Israeli lawmakers passed a controversial bill allowing Israeli police to hold the corpses of alleged Palestinian assailants indefinitely.
The act was passed by 48 votes to 10, a Knesset statement said, hours after another measure permitting the interior minister to strip Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem of their permanent residency permits "if they are involved in terrorism".
The government announced in 2016 that it would not release for burial the bodies of Palestinian assailants killed during attacks unless Palestinians in Gaza released the remains of two Israeli soldiers believed to have been killed in a 2014 war in Gaza.
In September 2019, a Palestinian group that campaigns on the behalf of corpses held by Israel wrote to the United Nations Secretary General, urging him to pressure Israel to release corpses of Palestinians.
The National Campaign for Retrieval of the Bodies of Palestinian and Arab War Victims sent a letter to Antonio Guterres, calling on him to take urgent action to release Palestinian corpses.
"Since 1967, Israel has applied an inconsistent policy of refusing to deliver the mortal remains of hundreds of Palestinian combatants to their families," the letter said.
"Israel's ongoing refusal to undertake the necessary process to identify those buried in the cemeteries of numbers violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 2474, which requires member states to prevent individuals from going missing as a result of armed conflict in territories under their jurisdiction," the group added.