Is Israel eradicating organs from the bodies of dead Palestinians?

At a vigil outside the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Gaza Strip, held to demand the release of the bodies of dead Palestinians held by Israeli authorities, the families of the dead accused Tel Aviv of stealing the organs of their sons and delaying the release of their bodies, in flagrant violation of all international covenants, even the laws and resolutions of Israel itself.

Talking about Israel stealing the bodies of deceased detainees is not only a popular accusation made by their families, but this information has been confirmed by several reports published by official Palestinian and international human rights bodies. .

The Palestinian authorities have documented cases

An official report released by the Palestinian Ministry of Information last April stated: “The Palestinian Authority has evidence confirming the loss of the bodies of the Palestinian martyrs, whom the Israeli authorities released after a long process of detention, after a long detention process, and it confirms that Israel steals organs from the bodies of Palestinian martyrs during the period of detention. According to the official report, “the Palestinian Authority has photographs of deceased persons whose bodies have been held by Israel for varying periods of time.” In the morgues, surgical stitches appear on them suggesting that they were incised to remove organs.

In its accusation, the Palestinian Authority relied on three cases of bodies, the first of which appeared on the eye area of ​​the corpse with an adhesive substance to prevent its opening, and in the second case there was a sharp fall in the chest area, which means it was empty of organs, and in the third, a surgical incision appeared in the body with medical stitches from the neck to the lower abdomen, according to the relationship manager from the Palestinian Ministry of Information, Nidaa Younes, who also says that there is a lot of field research in this regard.

Also in Gaza, health authorities reported finding, after the initial examination of the body of prisoner Fadel Shaheen, whose body was held by Israeli authorities, that there had been theft of the corneas from his eye, in addition to the presence of a longitudinal cut from his neck to the bottom of his stomach, which may suggest the theft of other organs from his body, but without evidence of autopsy.

Israel holds the bodies of around 305 dead Palestinians and Arabs, and generally keeps them in what is known as the Graveyard of the Numbers, or morgues inside Israel’s “Abu Kabir” Forensic Institute. The number of detainees in refrigerators is estimated at 105, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Information.

Families refuse autopsies

In fact, the Palestinian authorities, whether in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, have not explained the bodies of any deceased persons allegedly handed over by Israel after their detention to prove conclusively that Israel was involved in organ theft. The coordinator of the national campaign to recover the bodies, Hussein Shejaia, says that so far there is no conclusive evidence that Israel has stolen the organs from the corpses, as his authorities impose harsh conditions on the mechanisms of recovery. delivery and burial.

According to the National Committee for the Recovery of the Bodies of Martyrs, the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the families of the dead, human rights organizations operating in the Palestinian territories and the Israeli human rights organization man B’Tselem, however, Israel requires the family of the deceased not to carry out an autopsy and to bury the body the same night it is received, this will be in the presence of a limited number of relatives of the deceased, who are determined in advance, and fines of $13,000 are imposed on offenders in the event of an autopsy, and more than $5,000 in the event of a delay in the burial process.

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Shejaia explains that the body needs two or three days for the autopsy to take place, at a time when Israel requires burial immediately after the handover, and the families are afraid to accept this step, because they think that there is a possibility of removal the body from the hospital. He pointed out that Israel is holding the body for weeks before handing it over to its family, in refrigerators with temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Celsius below zero, so it is difficult to dissect it and whether any organs were stolen from his body.

Autopsy is a national necessity

According to the Palestinian Authority, the families of the detainees whose bodies are held refuse to accept an autopsy of the released bodies, which constitutes an obstacle to proving Israel’s crime of stealing the organs from the corpses. is ostensibly examined, and that is not enough to prove a single case of organ theft.

Nizam Najib, head of the Federation of Hospitals and Health Centers, said: “The families of the martyrs who receive the bodies through the Palestinian Authority must be persuaded to accept autopsies from specialized bodies, and this process is not complicated by the competent courts.

The Palestinian Authority’s inability to obtain documented information and evidence that Israel is engaged in harvesting organs from the bodies of those it detains has prompted the Palestinian Health Ministry to ask the United Nations to open an international investigation into “the theft of organs taken from the bodies of Palestinian dead”.

The UN received Palestinian and Israeli messages

In 2015, Palestine’s representative to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, sent a letter to Security Council President and then British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, in which he wrote: “After returning the detained bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, and following a medical examination, it was found that the bodies had been returned from without the corneas and other organs, confirming previous reports of organ harvesting from dead Palestinians. We ask that you investigate this matter effectively. United Nations at the time, Danny Danon, responded to this with a letter he attached to the then United Nations Secretary-General, Yan Ki Moon, in his text, stating: “The bloody libel of the delegate Palestinian reveals his anti-Semitic motivations and his true image. Anti-Semitism has no place in the halls of the United Nations and must be condemned. I invite you to reject this malicious accusation and to denounce the continued incitement of the Palestinian leadership.

Official confessions and denials

Officially, Israel once admitted in 2000, in an interview with an Israeli army spokesperson for CNN, that doctors there were involved in the process of removing organs from the bodies of dead Palestinians, noting that these practices have ceased definitively and are no longer repeated. Since then, Israel has always denied engaging in such activities and has affirmed its denial to all international and international organizations. The coordinator of its activities in the Palestinian territories, Ghassan Alyan, claims that it is a defamation against Israel.

However, despite Israel’s denial, former head of anatomical and forensic medicine at the Israel Institute of Forensic Medicine Yehuda Hess revealed that he personally supervised the removal of organs from the bodies of dead Palestinians, especially the cornea and parts of Israel’s “Malak Sha’at” said in a press interview with Hebrew Channel 2, that the percentage of Israeli organ donors is very low, at a time when Tel Aviv owns 170 square meters of human skin, and is considered the largest bank in the world, leaving open the question of the origin of these quantities.

But Israeli denial and ambiguity in the provision of information prompted the director of the Center for the Defense of the Individual in Israel (a non-governmental human rights organization), Dalia Karshtein, to accuse the Israeli institutions to be closed and to treat with negligence all that concerns the file of the Palestinian authorities, in particular the official institutions. She said the military, the National Insurance Institute and the Institute of Forensic Medicine are all refraining from providing necessary information on the case.

Bodies are currency rejected by law

In Israeli law, the state does not have the right to hold the bodies of Palestinian dead, as well as in international law, because according to Article 15 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, it criminalizes the possession of the body and the removal of organs from the body except with the consent of the family of the dead, whether in battle or in prisons And not to use their organs even if for a humanitarian reason, and the treaties of The Hague spoke of the inadmissibility of holding the bodies and disclosing their locations, but the “cabinet” (Israeli’s mini-ministerial council) issued a decision in 2020 to hold the body of every dead Palestinian, regardless of political affiliation , to use as a bargaining chip in any future exchanges with the factions in Gaza.

Immediately, the “Hamas” movement rejected the case, and declared that it would not combine this file with any exchange agreement. Its leader, Hassan Yousef, explained that despite this, they are working to release the bodies of dead Palestinians, who are being held by the Israeli authorities, in different ways.

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