Palestinian gunmen in Shuafat carry weapons during a funeral march for a Palestinian terrorist, shot dead by police after stabbing two Israelis in Jerusalem’s Old City.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
There is no problem with losing track of where Palestinian terrorists’ bodies are buried, only with returning those bodies to the terrorists’ families, Meir Indor, director of the Almagor Terror Victims NGO, said on Wednesday.
Indor was responding to a story in Haaretz that included admissions and apologies from a range of government officials for losing track of where decades-old terrorists’ bodies were buried.
Currently, there are two main sides in the dispute over what should happen with Palestinian terrorists’ bodies that come into Israeli possession after an attack. The debate usually pits the Palestinians and some Israelis on the Left, who demand an immediate return, against some Israelis on the Right, who agree to return the bodies, but only after certain conditions are agreed to that avoid provocative funerals.
In this narrative, terrorists’ bodies should almost always be returned at some point and they should carefully be kept track of, and the debate is just about timing and conditions.
Almagor and Indor’s position starts from a completely different vantage point.
He said that the Haaretz article issue of lost bodies arises from an earlier government policy not to return terrorists’ bodies.
Disapprovingly, Indor said that Ehud Barak, when he was defense minister around the start of the decade, changed the policy for returning bodies without holding a cabinet debate. Indor characterized the change as being for the worse, and gave several reasons why he opposed returning terrorists’ bodies.
As a philosophical and ethical matter, he said, “you give bodies back to the enemy when there are enemy armies involved, not for terrorists who shouldn’t have rights under the laws of war,” which they themselves ignore and abuse.
Further, “from a practical point of view, as long as they are holding our soldiers’ bodies [in the Gaza Strip], it doesn’t make sense to give their bodies back.”
Yossi Zur, a relative of terrorism victim Asaf Zur, sent a statement out earlier in the week making a similar argument, including “It is time for the state to say, loudly and clearly…, that there will be no more returning of terrorists’ bodies… and they will be buried in unmarked graves.”