Knesset passes law allowing Israeli police to hold bodies of Palestinians as precondition for funeral arrangements

Adalah: Withholding bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli police and preventing their immediate burial violates Israeli and international law.

The Israeli parliament on Wednesday, 7 March 2018, approved a law that allows the Israeli police to hold the bodies of Palestinians killed by the police or other security forces until families agree to preconditions on funeral arrangements.


Forty-eight Knesset members voted in favor of the law, which applies to Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, and Israeli police only. It does not apply to West Bank Palestinians or to the Israeli military.


The new law was legislated following a precedent-setting Israeli Supreme Court ruling on a petition filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel which determined that Israeli police did not have the legal authority to hold bodies – particularly given that doing so constitutes a violation of basic rights.


Adalah issued a statement today in response to the Knesset's approval of the new law:


"The holding of bodies and preventing their immediate burial is a violation of both Israeli and international law. In a precedent-setting ruling six months ago, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that holding bodies and setting preconditions on their return is a violation of the right to human dignity. The United Nations Committee Against Torture raised concern about the failure to return bodies and cautioned Israel to avoid such situations in the future. There is no parallel in constitutional or in human rights law to legislation of this sort. This law politicizes a humanitarian issue."