Terror victims can appeal on body transfers to PA
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
Almagor: Previous policy tantamount to adopting Palestinian view that terrorists were legitimate fighters.
In a hearing before the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, the state agreed
that the Defense Ministry would be an official address for appeals by victims of
terror to block the handover of terrorists’ bodies to the Palestinian
The state’s agreement to give the victims an official address
was accepted by the Almagor Terror Victims Association as a compromise
resolution of its petition it.
Almagor had filed a petition asking that
the state be obligated to give terrorism victims 48 hours notice prior to
transferring terrorists’ bodies to the PA.
The general basis of the
petition was that a 1990s law obligated the state to give 48 hours notice to
victims before transferring certain living terrorists to the PA.
is that objectors should have enough time to both publicly and legally try to
oppose the transfer.
According to Almagor’s attorney, in a number of
cases the notice allowed Almagor to make its case strong enough to change the
government’s mind on certain prisoner transfers.
Almagor said that the
sensitivity and anguish to terror victims’ families of transferring terrorists’
bodies was equal, and so the law of giving notice should be the same.
victims’ rights group attacked the state for distinguishing between live and
dead terrorists in its sensitivity toward victims’ feelings by saying that live
terrorists were a bigger issue because they could still present a
Almagor argued that the chief problem with the transfers in
question was that it gave the PA and other Palestinian groups opportunities to
celebrate the return of “martyrs” and their terrorist acts.
It said that
this phenomenon is just as big or bigger with celebrating the return of
terrorists’ bodies, as with transferring live terrorists.
It slammed the
state for wanting to treat terrorists’ bodies “with respect,” saying this was
giving in to the terrorists and their tactics by equating terrorists with
Almagor said that it understood that in military
conflicts both sides customarily give honors and respect to bodies of an enemy,
but that terrorists who intentionally attack civilians on buses and in malls,
and disregard the rules of war, should not be given the same honors.
these people, there can be no respect,” Almagor’s attorney said.
added that when the state says it honors the bodies of terrorists despite “their
crimes against humanity,” it “disgraces the victims and [the state’s]
Almagor noted that “the US threw bin Laden away” in the
Pressed by the court that these decisions are national security
decisions better left to the executive branch and which courts should stay out
of, Almagor responded that it believed its argument was “not just a moral one,”
but also had “legal standing.”
Almagor said that if the court ordered the
state to give notice to victims to allow opposition to transferring the
terrorists’ bodies, it would be giving legal voice to a law prohibiting
identifying with terrorist acts.
In Almagor’s interpretation,
transferring terrorists’ bodies which the state know will lead to their being
praised and celebrated effectively makes the state a party to identifying or
advancing identification with terrorist acts, in violation of the
The state said it agreed that some terrorists had committed crimes
against humanity, but that was not the relevant legal question in
It noted that terrorist bodies which remain in Israel’s hands
get buried, and no one is appealing against this practice.
The state said
that it continues to try to negotiate with the PA to receive guarantees that
returned bodies will not be the subject of celebration, but has never obtained
It also argued that Almagor misinterpreted the law giving
48 hours notice to terror victims regarding the return of live terrorists to the
Rather, the state attorney said that there is no right to veto the
transfer, only a right to register protest to the transfer.
the state agreed to a compromise: It would not give advance notice of
transferring terrorists’ bodies, but it agreed that terror victims could appeal
on the issue to the Defense Ministry at any time.
Almagor head Meir Indor
said that the courts’ failure to compel the state to give notice showed “the
bankruptcy of the courts.”
He also expressed dismay that the state was
accepting “terrorists’ argument that they have a political agenda,” and the idea
that courts cannot intervene as they can in dealing with lesser criminals.