Skip to main content

Israel withholding bodies of nine Palestinian children: Report

Rights group DCI-Palestine says Israel's policy violates international law and amounts to collective punishment
Israeli forces detain a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest in the flashpoint neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, 18 February 2022 (AFP)

Israel continues to withhold the bodies of nine Palestinian children its forces killed, in violation of international law, rights group Defence for Children International - Palestine (DCI) said on Tuesday.

The group said that Israel's practice of retaining bodies of Palestinian children, based on accusations they carried out stabbing attacks, is unlawful.

"Withholding bodies is a violation of both international law and human rights laws, which includes an absolute prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and stipulates that parties to armed conflict must bury the dead in an honorable manner," the DCI said. 

"It falls under the policy of collective punishment practised by the [Israeli] occupation against the Palestinian people, and the harm caused to the families of the martyrs as a result amounts to collective punishment that violates international humanitarian law." 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

How Israel controls Palestinian bodies, both living and dead
Read More »

Since 1967, Israel had also established cemeteries of numbers in closed military zones where it held the bodies of Palestinians and Arab citizens who were killed during the war or the struggle against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

The nine Palestinian children named by the DCI were all under 18 at the time of their death, with the youngest being two 15-year-olds: Yousef Mohammad Odeh from Jenin and Mohammad Nidal Musa from Nablus. 

The nine teenagers were killed as early as 2016 and as late as December 2021.

DCI said in December that 2021 was the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014, as Israeli forces killed 76 Palestinians under 18, 15 of them in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and 61 in the besieged Gaza Strip.

In Israeli jails, there are currently 180 Palestinian children imprisoned, according to Addameer, an NGO advocating for Palestinian detainees.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.