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Ref: 30/2018

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) deeply condemns the Israeli Supreme Court’s interim order not to return the body of fisherman Isma’il Saleh Abu Riyalah to his family. PCHR confirms that this order, is part of the Israeli inhuman policy of bartering the Palestinian corpses and is unjustified, immoral and in flagrant disregard for all religious and human values. PCHR believes that this order further proves that the Israeli Supreme Court has been over years legally covering the Israeli arbitrary policy.

PCHR, as the legal representative of the family of victim Ismail Abu Riyalah, who was killed on 25 February 2018 after the Israeli naval soldiers opened fire at him while fishing in Gaza Sea, continued to communicate with the competent Israeli authorities to guarantee the return of the fisherman’s body. PCHR’s efforts have started immediately after the incident occurred and communicated with the Israeli Liaison to know about the fate of three fishermen, who were on a boat at which the Israeli naval forces opened fire. PCHR received a response that one of the fishermen was killed and the 2 others were wounded and later released.

On 26 February 2018, PCHR continued contacting the Israeli Liaison to return Abu Riyalah’s body, but the Israeli Liaison responded that they had not received any decision regarding the release of the body. In light of the above, on 27 February 2018, PCHR sent to the Israeli Public Prosecution a letter, which is a pre-trial procedure (i.e. before filing an appeal to the court) to release the fisherman’s body and hand it to his family so they can bid farewell and bury him in the Gaza Strip.

On 06 March 2018, the Israeli prosecution responded as follows:

“The fisherman’s case does not meet the conditions identified in the Knesset’s decision taken on 01 January 2017 and relevant to not returning the bodies of “sabotages” and keeping them under the Israeli custody.  In light of the above, the State will return the body of Abu Riyalah to be buried in the Gaza Strip after 72 hours of stating this declaration as long as there was no further decision issued by the court giving another order.”

The Israeli Prosecution’s response to PCHR clarifies that the fisherman Isma’il Saleh Abu Riyalah was not accused of any acts that would threaten the Israeli security. That was confirmed when no official or nonofficial Israeli statements were issued in this regard. Moreover, releasing Abu Riyalah’s colleagues after arresting them for hours is a further proof of that.

On Thursday morning, 08 March 2018, the Israeli Supreme Court issued an interim judicial order not to return the body of fisherman Isma’il Abu Riyalah to his family in Gaza City. The court said that this order came upon a request of the family of the soldier Hadar Golden detained by the Palestinian Armed Groups in the Gaza Strip.

PCHR strongly condemns the Israeli inhuman policy of bartering the Palestinian corpse, reemphasizing that the Supreme Court’s order is unjustified and immoral.  PCHR also calls upon the Court to reverse its decision and apply the Israeli Prosecution’s decision to return the body of the fisherman Isma’il Saleh Abu Riyalah to his family, so his family would be able to bid farewell and bury him according to the Islamic rituals.