September 12 2009
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) launched an appeal for help on freeing bodies of Palestinian prisoners who died in Israeli prisons and others who were killed by Israeli troops.
Department of National and International Relations of the PLO called on the international community and friends of the Palestinian people to collect its’ voices to bring a united front to pressure Israel to make it let the bodies of dead Palestinians free.
PLO demanded that Israel adhere to the international conventions and to release hundreds of dead bodies of Palestinian and Arab detainees buried in the “Numbers Cemeteries”.
Israel punishes the Palestinian families even after the death of loved once.
“This is a sever violation of humanity. It’s contrary to all laws and international norms,” the PLO appeal stated.
From the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center
July 6, 2009
The Israeli government withholds unknown numbers of bodies of Palestinian and Arab war victims, killed throughout the years of struggle, confrontation, and opposition. For this purpose, the Israeli Authorities created, in addition to morgues, cemeteries called the “Cemetery of Numbers”. Only four of them have been identified to date.
These secret cemeteries are formed with bare graves surrounded by stones. A mere metal plate with a number for identification, instead of a name, figures on top of each grave. Grave stones are non-existent. Files, which are organized to each number and contains personal information of the buried victim, has been covert by the Israeli Army.
In the last few years, Israeli and international investigative journalists have found evidence on the existence of four such cemeteries:
01. A cemetery located near the Banat Yacoub Bridge in a military area bordering Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. Allegedly it contains approximately 500 graves of Palestinians and Lebanese killed in 1982 and onward.
02. A cemetery located in a closed military area between Jericho and Adam Bridge on the Jordan River. It is surrounded by a wall with an iron gate and a billboard inscribed “A Cemetery for the Dead of the Enemy”. It contains more than one hundred graves bearing numbers from 5003 to 5007. It is unknown whether they are serial numbers assigned to individuals or, as Israel claims, administrative codes unrelated to the real number of buried bodies.
03. The Cemetery of Refedeem in the Jordan Valley. Details unavailable.
04. The Cemetery of Shuheitar, located near Wadi Al Hamam, a village north of Galilee between Mount Ariel and the Lake of Galilee. Most of the bodies in this cemetery belongs to war victims killed in the Jordan Valley battles in the years 1965 to 1975. In the north side of this cemetery, 30 graves are divided between two rows, while the remaining 20 are situated in the central area. Shamefully, all these graves are sandy and shallow, which when exposed to rain, allows bodies to be vulnerable and dragged by stray animals.
The Cemetery of Numbers are a slur to the dignity of mankind for both the dead and the living. Their existence contravenes international humanitarian laws. It is a loud cry calling for an intervention from the international public opinion. The bodies of the innocent must be retrieved, and their families must be granted the right to give their family members and loved ones a decent burial in line with national traditions and religious rites.
Palestinian officials said hundreds of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces are now buried in the secret cemeteries, inside Green Line Israel. The issue is the subject of a new Palestinian Authority-backed campaign to demand that the bodies be returned to their families and given a proper burial.
Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said on Tuesday, “There are 300 martyrs registered and known, 18 of which are from Bethlehem. Why is Israel still keeping the corpses? What possible benefit could there be? Unless it does not want to reveal other things that it does to the corpses.”
Qaraqe was speaking on the Ma’an Network talk show Hard Questions. His accusations were refuted by another guest on the show, Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Yitzhak Ivanov, who admitted that Israel is still holding Palestinian corpses but denied that the bodies were mistreated.
“We keep the bodies with dignity,” Ivanov said. “These are claims we have become accustomed to and Israel does not accept them. If there is anyone who is sensitive to the dead, it is the Jewish people. These allegations are unacceptable.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Qaraqe spoke at a demonstration in the West Bank city of Nablus calling on Israel to return the bodies of the dead.
“Apart from the fact that the Cemeteries of Numbers are cruel and inhumane, they are also vulnerable to landslides. There were some reports about the disappearance of bodies because some animals can enter the cemetery and desecrate the corpses,” Qaraqe told the demonstrators.
The protest was organized as a part of a national campaign by the PA to seek the return of the corpses. The march started in the city centre and headed to the Federation of Trade Unions headquarters. The demonstrators stopped to pray for the souls of the departed at the city’s cemetery.
In addition to Qaraqe, the demonstration was attended by Minister of Social Affairs Majida al-Masri, President of the Palestinian Federation of Trade Unions Shaher Sa’ad, the official of the national campaign in the West Bank Salem Khelleh, Nablus Mayor Adli Ya’eesh, former imprisoned lawmaker Hussam Khader, and hundreds of members of the families of those whose bodies are still missing.
The official in charge of the national campaign to return the bodies in the West Bank, Salem Khelleh, said, “The most basic human right is to honor the martyrs for religious, national and humanitarian reasons. It is the right of every mother and sister to have a grave for her martyr to cry on and to tell him that he did not die in vain, but that he contributed to the establishment the State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.”
Mohammad Barakah, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, said, “In the last few weeks we have seen Israel’s hypersensitivity after the report the Swedish newspaper published earlier about the facts that the occupation for years has been stealing organs from the bodies of the Palestinian martyrs.
“Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been asking the Swedish government to apologize. But the Swedish government refused to apologize and asked Israel to respond to what has been published,” he added.
“We know that Israel’s alibi is weak and it is not surprising that they have committed such crimes,” Barakah continued. “The detention of the bodies of martyr’s since 1967 raises a number of questions. As we see it, Israel is hiding something and doesn’t want the martyrs’ families to know, so as not to reveal its crimes. If they deny these accusations, they should provide proof.”
Barakah added that the issue of the detained bodies is not an internal Palestinian issue, and should not be linked to political negotiations. Rather, he said, Israel should restore the bodies unconditionally.