The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) announced in a statement that the longest withheld body belongs to a Palestinian prisoner identified as Anis Douleh, who died in 1980.
He is among the 251 Palestinians who have been buried in Israel’s so-called “Cemeteries of Numbers” – the military cemeteries in which anonymous numbers on grave-side stakes are used to identify Palestinians interred after being killed during alleged assaults on Jewish extremist settlers or while in detention.
The PPS added that Israel Prison Service (IPS) authorities still refuse to reveal the fate and whereabouts of 68 missing Palestinians.
The remaining Palestinians whose bodies are held include Aziz Oweisat, who died in 2018, Faris Baroud, Nassar Taqatqa, and Bassam Sayeh, who passed away in 2019, Sadi Gharabli and Kamal Abu Waer, who died in 2020, and Sami al-Amour, who lost his life in 2021.
The last three Palestinians – Daoud al-Zubeidi, Mohammad Maher Turkman and Nasser Abu Hamid – all died in 2022.
The withholding of dead Palestinian bodies has been practiced by Israel for decades.
Human rights groups, however, affirm that there has been a significant rise in the withholding of Palestinian bodies by Israeli forces since 2015.
In addition to the 251 Palestinian bodies buried since 1967 in Israeli special graveyards, known by Palestinians as “Cemeteries of Numbers”, Israel withholds 105 Palestinian bodies in morgue fridges – all killed after 2015.
The handing over of bodies is always done through the Palestinian civil liaison office, the Palestinian body in charge of coordinating civil affairs with the occupying Israeli regime.
Between 2007 and 2015, Israel stopped the practice of withholding Palestinian bodies.
Then came the Palestinian October 2015 Intifada (uprising), during which the number of Palestinian retaliatory operations against Israeli forces and settlers increased, often ending with the killing of the suspected attackers. Israeli forces then began once again to withhold the bodies of those killed.