Ref: 29/2018


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.

Yesterday morning, 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.”

PCHR strongly condemns the Israeli ongoing attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip and denounces the Israeli inhuman policy of bartering the Palestinian corpses.  Thus, PCHR calls upon the Israeli prosecution to immediately apply its decision to return the body of fisherman Isma’il Saleh Abu Riyalah as PCHR received a copy of the decision in its capacity as the legal representative of the fisherman’s family.  PCHR believes that detaining the body of Abu Riyalah is unjustifiable and immoral and in a flagrant disregard for all religious and human values. PCHR also calls upon the Prosecution to immediately apply its decision so his family would be able to bid farewell and bury him in an appropriate way according to the Islamic rituals.