Palestinian Victims’ Families Decline Recommendation to Exhume Their Sons’ Bodies


Today, family members of four Palestinian citizens of Israel killed by Israeli police in October 2000 responded to a recommendation to exhume the bodies of their sons.  Adalah’s General Director, Hassan Jabareen, submitted a letter on their behalf to the official Commission of Inquiry (“the Commission”) regarding a recommendation to exhume the bodies of Asel Hassan Asleh, Eyad Sobhi Lawabneh, Ramez Abbas Bushnaq and Ala’a Khaled Nassar.  The following letter was sent on the families’ behalf in response to the recommendation from Professor Yehuda Hiss of the National Institute of Forensic Medicine:


I am writing to inform you of the response of the Asleh, Lawabneh, Bushnaq and Nassar families (hereafter referred to as “the families”), to the recommendation made by Professor Hiss to exhume their sons’ bodies for investigation.


1.       According to the 22 November 2001 testimony of Professor Hiss before the Commission, conducting an autopsy at this point could reveal the type of the bullets that were used, i.e. rubber-coated steel or live ammunition.  However, an autopsy at this time would not reveal the distance of the shooter, the identity of the shooter, or any other ballistics data.  Therefore, the families do not believe that exhumation the bodies of their sons will contribute to or shed any new light on the investigation into the circumstances of the killings. Furthermore, based on medical documentation, the bullets that caused their sons’ deaths were directed at the upper half of their bodies, in violation of the open fire regulations, regardless of the type of bullet used. Although the Commission has an obligation to determine the full truth of the events that led to their deaths, including the type of bullets used, it has already been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that these violations occurred.


2.       The exhumation of the bodies would violate the families’ religious beliefs.  The families believe that to exhume their sons’ bodies would be dishonorable to and disrespectful of the deceased, and would severely damage the dignity of the deceased.  Moreover, in addition to the pain and suffering inherently involved in an exhumation, it may cause the families to revisit the bitter reality of the events of October 2000.


3.       These circumstances demonstrate again the failure of Mahash (the Ministry of Justice Police Investigation Unit) to fulfill its obligations under the law, which includes the duty to file a timely request to conduct an autopsy prior to the burial of a body.  As Mahash confirmed that it released some bodies for burial prior to an autopsy, the Commission has a responsibility to probe the behavior of Mahash regarding the lack of investigations into the October 2000 events.


4.       Further, the families demand that the Commission immediately release the full medical documentation and expert opinions submitted to the Commission which relates to the victims, so that Adalah may soon submit a response to the expert opinion of Professor Hiss.



Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Tel: +972.4.950.1610

Fax: +972.4.950.3140