by Maureen Clare Murphy
A Palestinian family in the Jerusalem-area village of al-Eizariya has beenÂ unable to buryÂ their 14-year-old son, who was killed by Israeli police last month.
Nassim Abu Rumiâs family has petitioned Israelâs high court to order the release of his body, which will be reportedlyÂ transferred on Friday. Israel will also be transferring the remains of Omar Younis, who died in an Israeli hospital in April after being shot by occupation forces at a West Bank checkpoint.
Israel is holding the remains of more than a dozen Palestinians recently killed during alleged and actual attacks on occupation forces and civilians.
This month, following a petition by several families whose relativesâ remains are being held by Israel, the countryâs highest courtÂ rubber-stamped its approvalÂ of the policy.
The court ruled that Israelâs military has âthe legal right to hold on to the bodies of slain terrorists for use as leverage in future negotiations with Palestinians,â asÂ The Times of IsraelÂ reported.
In December 2017, the court stated that Israel has no legal authority to hold bodies âuntil consent to certain funeral arrangements is givenâ by a slain Palestinianâs family.
Israel âcannot hold on to corpses for the purposes of negotiations at a time when there is no specific and explicit law that allows it to do so,â the judges stated at the time.
The following year, Israelâs parliament, the Knesset,Â passed a lawÂ allowing police to withhold the bodies of Palestinians killed while allegedly carrying out attacks on Israelis.
The law authorizes police commanders to withhold a body if it is determined the slain personâs funeral âcould be used to carry out an attack or provide a platform for praising terrorism,â according toÂ The Times of Israel.
Public security minister Gilad Erdan, who oversees Israelâs police, said at the time of the lawâs passing that âThe government doesnât want to hold on to these bodies. As far as we are concerned, the bodies of these cursed terrorists will rot. We have no need for them.â
The Israeli high courtâs ruling this month, however, shows that the state intends to use the bodies as bargaining chips to secure the remains of Israeli soldiers held by Palestinians.
Human rights groups refute the high courtâs claim that withholding Palestinian bodies is permissible under international humanitarian law, which governs armed conflict.
Adalah, a group that advocates for the rights of Palestinians in Israel,Â saidÂ the ruling was among the âmost extremeâ ever made by the court, âas it undermines the most basic principles of universal humanity.â
The rights group added that the court ruling is the first anywhere in the world permitting state authorities to hold bodies so that they may be used as bargaining chips.
âThe practice of withholding bodies amounts to a policy of collective punishment,â which is prohibited under international law, the Palestinian human rights group Al-HaqÂ stated.
The withholding of bodies is also âcontrary to the prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment,â Al-Haq added.
The families who petitioned the court stated that they âwill consider appealing to international courts in an effort to do everything possible to recover the bodies of their loved ones.â
Video showsÂ that Nassim Abu Rumi was killed moments after he and another Palestinian child, holding kitchen knives, lunged at Israeli police officers in Jerusalemâs Old City on 15 August.
Officers opened fire at the boysÂ as a matter of first resort, making no use of less-lethal means to detain them.
The other boy was seriously injured and has been charged with attempted murder. A Palestinian bystander was injured during the incident, and one officer was lightly wounded by the youths.
Videos from the sceneÂ do not show any attempt to administer first aid to either of the boys after they were shot by police. Video shows an officer receiving treatment.
A human rights group isÂ demanding an investigationÂ by Israelâs health ministry into another case of a suspected Palestinian assailant being left to bleed to death, even though a police physician was at the scene.
Yaqoub Abu al-QiyanÂ was shot by police during what they thought was an attempted car-ramming attack during a raid on Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village in southern Israel that is not recognized by the state.
AnalysisÂ published by the UK-based research group Forensic Architecture indicates that contrary to claims from Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abu al-Qiyan was not attempting any such attack when police opened fire on his vehicle in January 2017.
Forensic Architectureâs findings indicate that Abu al-Qiyan, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was driving slowly and his vehicle only accelerated after he was shot at by police, suggesting he had lost control of his car.
A recently concluded internal police probe cleared the police physician of negligence.
Human rights groups say that the failure of the police physician to administer first-aid to Abu al-Qiyan âis not a localized failure, but a systemic problem.â
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel stated that âVague procedures for caring for injured parties in scenes suspected as scenes of a terrorist attack allow for situations in which injured parties suspected as perpetrators do not receive care.â
âPhysicians cannot act as judge and jury,â the group added. âPhysicians and other medical staff must treat all injured parties according to triage principles.â
In its investigation of a pattern of unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces, Amnesty InternationalÂ statedÂ that the failure to administer first aid â âespecially intentional failure â violates the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.â
The human rights organization added that âAs such, failure to provide medical aid should be investigated as a criminal offense.â
On Wednesday, a Palestinian woman was shot by Israeli forces at a West Bank checkpoint andÂ left to bleed to death in the street.
Eyewitnesses said that the woman was denied first aid. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that Israeli forces prevented paramedics from reaching her.
~Electronic Intifada/Days of Palestine
Christopher Carlson is a full-time student of Religious Studies at Mount Mercy University, USA. He has been with the IMEMC since 2013. (firstname.lastname@example.org)