Planned Burial of Palestinians in Mass and Anonymous Graves and Refusal to Allow Humanitarian Organizations to Enter the Jenin Refugee Camp

HCJ 3116/02, Adalah and LAW v. Commander of the Israeli Army in the West Bank

The petition was filed with LAW in April 2002 against the Commander of the Israeli Army in the West Bank. According to media reports, the army was collecting dead bodies on the outskirts of the Jenin refugee camp, apparently with the intention of burying them in mass, anonymous or numbered graves. The army refused to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Palestine Red Crescent Society, or any other humanitarian agency to enter the camp for more than nine days.

The army's refusal to allow families to rapidly and respectfully bury their dead according to religious customs is an infringement on the rights of the deceased and their families, is disproportionate, and constitutes an arbitrary act of revenge. The army's actions violate previous commitments made before the Court to avoid severe violations of international humanitarian law, and thus, as the army is in control of the Jenin camp, the army is in contempt of court.

The Supreme Court granted the petitioners' motion for an injunction to stop any burials. The Supreme Court also attached a responsibility on the army, accompanied by the ICRC, to identify and document the bodies. Once this is done, the bodies should be given to family members for burial as quickly as possible. The state admitted that the army began evacuating bodies without immediately contacting relevant Palestinian organizations.

The petition was dismissed on 14 April 2002. The Supreme  Court decision combined the petition with two others, H.C. 3114/02, MK Mohammed Barakeh v. Minister of Defense, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, et al and H.C. 3115/02, MK Ahmed Tibi v. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon et al.

News Updates:

12 April 2002: Adalah files petition
13 April 2002: Supreme Court sets hearing for the following day
14 April 2002: Supreme Court allows humanitarian agencies to locate and identify bodies
15 April 2002: Adalah asks court to establish procedures for removing bodies

Additional News Updates:

13 April 2002: Ha'aretz. "Court: IDF can't move bodies; Lieberman: Barak must be ousted"
14 April 2002: Ha'aretz. "High Court order delays IDF removal of Jenin dead"
14 April 2002. Ha'aretz. "Court rejects petitions demanding IDF not remove Jenin dead"
15 April 2002. Ha'aretz. "Red Cross to join IDF in seeking Jenin dead"
16 April 2002. Ha'aretz. "Court told: IDF leaving dead to rot in Jenin"
21 April 2002. Yedioth Ahronot. "Jenin - The Propaganda War"

Related Documents:

Detailed Case summary (English)
Petition (English, Hebrew)
State's Response (English)
Supreme Court Decision:  (English, Hebrew)

H.C. 3116/02, Adalah and LAW v. Commander of the Israeli Army in the West Bank