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25.3.2015

The military's response to HaMoked's freedom-of-information application: "the IDF holds 19 bodies of Palestinians from Operation 'Protective Edge'"

For many years, HaMoked has been fighting for the recovery of the bodies of dozens of Palestinian fatalities kept by Israel as bargaining chips. In 2014, Israel resumed returning the bodies of Palestinians to their families, and to date, most of the bodies demanded by HaMoked have already been returned. But it now turns out that Israel persists in using this shameful policy, damaging the respect for the dead and the dignity of the bereaved families.

On October 22, 2014, given its past experience and reports in the media that the Israeli military had seized the bodies of two Hamas commanders during the recent offensive in Gaza, HaMoked sent the Ministry of Defense an application under the Freedom of Information Act for details about the bodies of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip that were being held by Israel. HaMoked asked whether the bodies were transported from Gaza to Israel during the recent war, and if so, how many. HaMoked also asked whether the identity of all of the bodies was known and where were they kept.

Some five months later, on March 24, 2015, the military responded that the IDF holds 19 bodies of Palestinians "from Operation 'Protective Edge'". It was also reported that the Military Rabbinate (the religious-services corps) holds details that might assist in the identification of the bodies, but that conclusive identification had not been carried out. The military refused to reveal the bodies' burial place for "information-security reasons".

It must be noted that the information the military provided and the wording of its response are highly obscure. Thus, for example, it is not clear whether the Palestinians were already dead or only wounded when transported from Gaza to Israel; the document listing the burial dates does not explain why the last recorded burial took place three whole months after the rest, nor is the reference to the burial of body parts clear.
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