Israel could stop returning bodies of Palestinian attackers killed by security forces to their families

Security minister Gilad Erdan argued that funerals turn into 'an exhibition of support for terror and incitement to murder'

Lizzie Dearden
Wednesday 14 October 2015 15:18 BST
The funeral of Moataz Zawahra, a 28-year-old Palestinian who was killed in clashes with Israeli security forces, near Bethlehem on 14 October
The funeral of Moataz Zawahra, a 28-year-old Palestinian who was killed in clashes with Israeli security forces, near Bethlehem on 14 October (AFP/Getty Images)

Israel’s internal security minister has said that the bodies of Palestinian attackers killed by the security services should not be returned to their families for burial.

Gilad Erdan’s proposal came as the Security Cabinet approved powers for police to close off Arab and Palestinian areas of Jerusalem, destroy attackers’ homes, confiscate their property and revoke permanent residency rights.

The public security minister claimed that funeral processions for people killed while attempting to harm Israelis turn into “an exhibition of support for terror and incitement to murder”.

“We must not allow that,” he added. “We must do everything so that the terrorist won't be able to merit honour and ceremonies after conducting an attack.”

Mr Erdan proposed that offenders instead be buried quietly at military cemeteries within Israel’s borders.

It was unclear whether Muslim burial rites would be respected, which stipulate that people are buried as quickly as possible, bathed and wrapped in white, with their bodies facing Mecca.

The UK’s minister for the Middle East, Tobias Elwood, urged all parties to refrain from violence and called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to “avoid measures which could further fuel tensions”.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy told The Independent that Mr Erdan’s proposal was not yet “official Israeli policy”.

Thousands of people have attended funerals for both Israelis and Palestinians killed in weeks of worsening violence, turning some processions into angry protests.

Hundreds attended the funeral held today for Moataz Zawahra, a 28-year-old Palestinian man killed by Israeli forces during clashes in Bethlehem on Tuesday.

His body was carried through the streets by mourners in a huge procession before the ensuing protests devolved into more conflict with troops, with some Palestinians throwing rocks as they were hit with tear gas and stun grenades.

Muhannad Halabi, the 19-year-old who stabbed two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men to death in Jerusalem on 3 October after claiming the “third intifada has begun”, was also mourned by thousands near Ramallah earlier this month.

Tuesday was the worst day of violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories since tensions erupted in September.

Three Israelis and three Palestinians, including two attackers, were killed and many more were injured in stabbings, shootings, rock-throwing and clashes with security forces on the day.

In Jerusalem this afternoon, a “terrorist” was shot dead near the walls of the Old City after an attempted stabbing.

A police spokesperson said there were no other injuries in the incident at Damascus Gate, where there were two other attacks on Saturday.

Eight Israelis have died in a string of stabbings, shootings and the stoning of a car, while 30 Palestinians - including 13 identified by Israel as attackers - have been killed in the last two weeks.

Additional reporting by AP

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