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Misidentification of a body: the case of BS
documents: 1  |  Updates: 3 In September 1984, the military killed BS, a Palestinian from Ramallah, during his attempt to penetrate Israel from Jordan. His body was kept by the military. Ten years later, when the family heard rumors that their son was still alive, HaMoked applied to the military on their behalf to ascertain his fate. The military responded that BS had been killed in 1984 together with two other men, and that the three had been buried in the cemetery for enemy dead near Adam Bridge.

In July 1994, the military approved HaMoked’s request to transfer the remains of BS to his family for burial in their village. When HaMoked asked for documents confirming that the body about to be transferred was indeed that of BS, the military responded that it had no identifying documentation and that it was impossible to reconstruct the what procedure led, at the time, to identifying the body. HaMoked asked the military to perform DNA testing to prove his identity, but the request was not answered. Only after HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice on the matter, the military agreed to allow genetic testing of the body, and also to cover its costs. The petition was deleted at HaMoked’s request.

On December 2, 1998, the military exhumed the body it intended to return to the family, and transferred it to the National Forensic Institute for genetic comparison with the DNA results of BS’s mother and sister. The conclusion of the test was that this was not the body of BS.

Following the military’s failure to trace BS, and the other case where it “lost” a body buried in the cemetery for enemy dead, the Chief of Staff appointed an inquiry committee to trace the missing bodies and examine the “overall aspects of the IDF’s handling of bodies of terrorists in general”. The committee’s summary of conclusions indicated that on October 6, 1984, the bodies of BS and two other men who were killed with him had been buried by soldiers who had not been trained in the treatment and burial of bodies: thus, contrary to the manner practiced in the cemetery, the bodies were interred in a site not designated for burial, without coffins, without the presence of a military rabbi, and without the placing of suitable markers. In addition, the burial orders were dated November 6, 1984, a month after the actual burial.

On the recommendation of committee, the two other bodies interred on the date of BS’s burial were exhumed and taken for genetic testing. A month later, the military notified the family that one of the bodies was identified as BS. More than six years after HaMoked applied to the military, BS’s remains were handed over to his family for burial in his home village.


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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