Israeli minister blocks burial of killed Palestinian attackers

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israel's internal security minister on Tuesday ordered police to stop handing over for burial the bodies of Palestinians killed carrying out attacks, defying a supreme court recommendation.

Gilad Erdan announced the decision on his official Facebook page in response to video posted online showing a large crowd at the east Jerusalem funeral of a local Palestinian man who killed an Israeli rabbi in west Jerusalem in October and was then shot dead by police at the scene.

In the footage, the chanting mourners praise Alaa Abu Jamal as a "martyr".

"I was just shown the outrageous images from the funeral last night in east Jerusalem, in which the conditions set by the police were violated and the commitments made by the terrorist's family were broken," Erdan said.

"I instructed the police to stop returning the bodies of terrorists."

The video appeared to show that the rally was outside the cemetery gates and beyond the control of the family.

"Police said the family met the conditions it had been set, as only 40 people were allowed into the cemetery," Israeli news site Ynet reported.

"The chanting was done outside while the body was being taken from the nearby mosque to the cemetery," it said.

In February Erdan's ministry set conditions for the handover of bodies of attackers from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Bereaved families would have to commit to burying their relatives at night, with a maximum of 40 mourners, and not allow funerals to become Palestinian nationalist demonstrations.

On May 5, the supreme court urged the police "to coordinate with the families and return the bodies of their sons before Ramadan," the holy Muslim fasting month that begins in early June.

But its declaration was a recommendation rather than a mandatory ruling and Erdan said Tuesday that in any case the Palestinians had breached the rules.

"The terrorists' families lied to the court after they pledged to abide by the police demands," he wrote. "It's a shame the court believed them and pressured the police to return the bodies by Ramadan."

Rights groups Adalah and Addameer had petitioned the court on behalf of nine families whose relatives' bodies have been withheld by the security forces, some for more than six months.

Muslim custom demands that the dead be buried as soon as possible.

An upsurge in violence since October has killed 205 Palestinians and 28 Israelis. Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, Israeli authorities say.