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“The pain of Israel holding my dead son’s body is worse than the death of my son” says father of dead Palestinian terrorist on the “daily torture” of Israel holding bodies of dead terrorists

Official PA TV program Good Morning Jerusalem, interview with Muhammad Alyan, father of terrorist Baha Alyan who murdered 3 people together with an accomplice 

 

Official PA TV host: “The occupation (i.e., Israel) is not satisfied with just executing the [Arab] residents of Jerusalem, but rather is attempting to also torture their families by holding [on to] the Martyrs’ bodies. And here we are talking about the difficult experiences that you have undergone: First, the death as a Martyr [of your son] Baha [Alyan] (i.e., terrorist, murdered 3 people together with an accomplice) in 2015, and secondly, his body being held [by Israel].” 

… 

Muhammad Alyan, father of terrorist Baha Alyan: “If [the pain of] Martyrdom-death itself were placed on one side of the scales, and [the pain of the body] being held was placed on the other side, then [the body] being held would tip the scales. In other words, these are two very painful experiences. The first is the surprising loss, the surprising bereavement. The Martyr’s father didn’t know that his son was about to be killed as a Martyr… 

This pain and sorrow cannot be described in words. I think that the Arabic language is incapable of precisely describing the sorrow and suffering in the hearts of these families. This pain is permanent and not temporary, not for a day or two or three. The family’s life turns upside down, it is as if it begins anew. From now on there is no family, no plan for the future, no life in the home. The home is now lacking. I think that the loss of Nour Shuqeir (i.e., terrorist, tried to run over Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Jerusalem before being shot and killed by them on Nov. 25, 2020) is [like] the loss of an organ in the body of the father or in the body of the mother… 

What is saddening in this topic is that we as a local society and a Palestinian people are not relating to this situation in a manner that is appropriate to the depth of the sadness. We call on the family to endure [the pain], and we wish the Martyr that he will merit mercy, and we make do with this and say that the Martyrs’ families are strong. [But] they are not strong. Yesterday [Nov. 26, 2020] I was surprised by the strength of spirit of the father of Martyr Nour [Shuqeir]. He was strong and determined… but inside of him… and in the tears that he held back… you feel a deep sadness in him, and he does not want to express it for fear of being thought of as weak.” 

… 

Host: “There is a question that [is asked by] every family of a Martyr whose body is being held [by Israel]: What is the fate of this body? Was he actually killed as a Martyr? Has he been buried, is he in the [morgue] refrigerators? Where have the occupation forces (I.e., IDF) placed these bodies? And perhaps it has been published that these Martyrs were killed as Martyrs, but perhaps they did not [die] as Martyrs?” 

Muhammad Alyan: “Thank you for this question, because this is what troubles the Martyrs’ families, and it is the source of their uncertainty, the situation of uncertainty that the families are constantly in. First, they are uncertain regarding the death… except for in a very small number of cases… 

The occupation (I.e., Israel) authorities are not calling on the Martyr’s father to see the body and confirm the Martyrdom-death. They inform the relevant Palestinian authorities that there is a Martyr, but they do not allow anyone to see the body, and they do not give [the PA] information on the location [of] where the body is being held… This raises doubts as to whether the Martyr is being held alive, or if he is a Martyr and we don’t know where, or if he was executed after his arrest… Medical reports are not given, and they (the families) do not see the Martyr’s body… 

Until now we [still] don’t know where our sons’ bodies are. There was a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court from September 2019 that allowed the army to hold the bodies and bury them in temporary cemeteries. Were our sons actually buried in temporary cemeteries, or were they left in  refrigerators? – We still don’t know … 

And the most difficult condition is… that the family is not allowed to medically check the body. I still don’t know if [my son] Martyr Baha Alyan’s body was whole, or if there was damage to his body, or organ theft (see note below –Ed.). [When Israel returned the body] they made us hold the burial within an hour… They also ban the presence of a doctor to check [the body], and ban transferring [it] to a hospital for a post mortem. And therefore I think that this condition frightens us greatly, because we don’t know what our sons’ condition is even within the refrigerators and the numbered cemeteries (i.e., Israeli cemeteries for temporary burial of terrorists). Are the bodies being harmed? … Has there been a change in the condition of the Martyr’s body?” 

… 

Host: “Legally speaking, and from the perspective of human rights institutions, how do they view the issue?” 

Muhammad Alyan: “I will tell you what international humanitarian law says on the matter: [International] law bans holding any body. First of all, international humanitarian law demands protecting the local residents who are under occupation. And therefore the occupation must not execute the local resident for any reason. There are other means. There are means of arrest in a case of feeling danger. There are means of neutralizing [danger]. There are other means aside from execution. But if they killed and executed - and this constitutes a war crime - then the occupier must hand over the body immediately after the identification-” 

Host: “That is considered a war crime internationally?” 

Muhammad Alyan: “It is considered close to a war crime. And in the research that I prepared, I claim that this also approaches the crime of torture. In other words, holding the body is torture for the family. The family remains in a state of daily torture until the body is handed over. And there is no security or political justification for holding the body, other than torturing the family and punishing the family.” 

 

Baha Alyan and Bilal Ghanem – 22 and 23-year-old Palestinian terrorists who on Oct. 13, 2015, boarded a bus in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood with a gun and a knife and attacked passengers, murdering Israelis Chaim Haviv (78), Alon Govberg (51), and Richard Lakin (76), and wounding 3 Israelis. Alyan was shot and killed by an Israeli security guard at the scene and Ghanem, a Hamas terrorist who served time in Israeli prison in 2013-2014, was wounded. Ghanem is serving 3 life sentences and an additional 60 years for these murders.

Organ theft – There is one case of organ theft in Israel’s history. In 2001, an Israeli investigative journalist exposed that from the years 1988 to 2000, doctors under chief pathologist Yehuda Hiss at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine at times took body parts without permission from relatives, for research and transplants of skin and corneas. Most body parts were taken from Israeli Jews, but the theft also included body parts from Israeli Arabs, Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists. There has been no documented case since then. 

The Cemeteries for Enemy Casualties (numbered cemeteries) are two burial sites maintained by the Israeli army for burying the bodies of enemy soldiers during wartime as well as terrorists. They are fenced and well-marked. Graves have markers instead of gravestones. Burial is temporary, as the bodies are eventually returned to their countries of origin. No ceremony is held. The bodies are buried in numbered caskets after their identities are documented.