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Administrative Detainee
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Repeated failures in tracing a body: the case of ‘IZ
documents: 1  |  Updates: 3 On February 3, 1990, ‘IZ, a Palestinian resident of Jordan set out from South Lebanon towards Israel. He then disappeared. Having failed to trace him, in November 1992, his mother filed a habeas corpus petition via HaMoked to compel that state to disclose his whereabouts, and if he was dead, reveal where he was buried. The State Attorney’s Office responded that ‘IZ was not held by Israel and had not been buried by the military, but acknowledged that on February 3, 1990, two unidentified individuals had been killed in a clash with the military.

After the court instructed the state to continue its inquiries as to ‘IZ’s fate, HaMoked requested that the identity of the people killed in February 1990 be checked by genetic tests comparing their samples with that of ‘IZ’s mother. On August 8, 1994, when the military opened up their negligently-marked graves, two bodies were found buried in a single shallow grave, with the serial numbers identifying them almost completely erased; the other grave turned out to be empty. One of the bodies was removed for genetic testing. Because such a test was unavailable in Israel at that time, HaMoked sent the sample to an institute of genetic research in the USA, which concluded this was not the body of ‘IZ.

In December 1995, the State Attorney’s Office announced that it now turned out that at the time, the identity cards of the two men killed in February 1990 had been found on them, and that one of them was ‘IZ’s ID card. The State Attorney’s Office claimed that therefore it was “absolutely obvious” that ‘IZ was buried in one of the graves close to the one from which the body had been removed, and so there was “no point” in opening up the other graves. HaMoked insisted on conclusive identification of ‘IZ’s burial site and the state reopened the graves. But a different body was found buried in the same grave from which the first body had been taken for testing in 1994. This body and the two bodies buried near it were taken for DNA testing. None showed any correlation to the genetic profile of the mother.

In October 1999, following the military’s failures in handling the remains of ‘IZ and another man buried in the cemetery for enemy dead, the Chief of Staff appointed an inquiry committee to trace the missing bodies and review the military’s handling of “bodies of terrorists”. The committee concluded that the procedures for handling bodies were not well known in the military and improperly implemented, and also that the cemetery for enemy dead was inadequately maintained. The committee recommended, inter alia, moving the cemetery from its location near the Daughters of Jacob Bridge; and the examination of every dead body at the National Forensic Institute before burial. The cemetery was consequently moved, and the military revised it procedures on the treatment of bodies

On June 29, 2000, a decade after ‘IZ was killed, the state announced it had located his body: it was the same body that was examined in 1994. Two months later, the petition was rejected.


Captive Corpses
HaMoked Report  |  1.3.1999
Report by HaMoked and B'Tselem dealing with Israel's refusal to return the bodies of Palestinians killed in various circumstances relating to the conflict, thus preventing their families from bringing them to burial. This policy constitutes collective punishment and contradicts international law. The report also emphasizes the great difference in how Israeli state and society respect their own ...
Updates
14.12.2017
The High Court of Justice rules Israel is not authorized to hold Palestinian corpses: however, the state is granted six months to formulate a legal arrangement regulating this practice
25.11.2014
As part of the long struggle to have Palestinians’ remains returned to their families, it now turns out: Israel does not know where it had buried some of the bodies it has pledged to return
9.12.2009
The High Court of Justice once again postponed a hearing in HaMoked’s petitions to return the bodies of Palestinians to their families: Despite the fact that under Israeli law and international humanitarian law, Israel must return the bodies of the dead to the families, it continues to avoid carrying out its duty and to mistreat the families
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