Israel’s new policy is to not return bodies of Palestinians militants

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There has been widespread condemnation for this new decision that will see Israel withholding the bodies of Palestinian militants slain in combat.

Rights groups have termed Israel’s decision to not return the bodies of Palestinian militants as barbaric. The decision was approved by the government’s security cabinet. Before this Israel would only retain bodies of Hamas fighters but this new policy could see the withholding of bodies killed during or as a result of an anti-Israeli attack. This was part of a broader plan for deterrence, according to Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz.

He said that not returning the bodies of “terrorists” was part of the commitment to the safety of Israeli citizens. He also invoked the matter of the remains of the two Israeli soldiers which have been held inside Gaza by Hamas since 2014. It is believed that Hamas is also holding two Israeli citizens who are said to have wandered accidentally into Gaza and who, according to their families, have mental health issues.

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Rights groups like Adalah have said the use of bodies as “bargaining chips” was a violation of basic universal values and international law. They termed the decision as “extreme, barbaric and illegal”.

This comes just a couple of days after the Qatar-brokered peace that put an end to other three weeks of exchange of fire between the Hamas and Israel. The latter had been shelling Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to their launching of “fire balloons” i.e. explosive-laden balloons into Israeli territory. Israel had also suspended fishing activities and stopped supplies including fuel to Gaza’s sole power station. These have now resumed but tensions continue to simmer and Israel latest decision is a reflection of that.

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