Gantz escalates Israeli war against dead Palestinians
The Israeli government approved a proposal this month that allows the military to indefinitely hold the bodies of Palestinians who have been killed by the Israeli army. The proposal was made by Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Gantz is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main political rival. He also serves as alternate prime minister. If Netanyahu does not give up the coalition government deal he signed with the Gantzs Blue and White alliance in April, Gantz will become prime minister in November 2021.
Since his official introduction to the troubled world of Israeli politics, Gantz has allegedly adopted a centrist attitude against the Palestinians, especially those in Gaza. In doing so, he hopes to expand his appeal to Israeli voters, most of whom have migrated en masse to the right of the political spectrum.
But the Gantzs’ latest achievement, that of denying the dead Palestinians a proper burial is not an entirely new idea. In fact, in Israel, the use of corpses as negotiating pieces has been the modus operandi for decades.
According to the logic of defense ministers, the retention of corpses will serve as a deterrent against terrorist attacks. However, judging by the fact that the practice has been used for many years, there is no evidence that the Palestinians have ever been discouraged from resisting the Israeli military occupation because of such strategies.
However, according to Israeli officials, the new policy is different from previous practice. While, in the past, Israel has kept only the bodies of suspected Palestinian attackers who belonged to terrorist groups, this practice will now apply to all Palestinians, even those without any political affiliation.
In addition to the Gantzs’ attempt to raise his hawkish credentials, the military-turned-military wants to improve its chances in the face of heated, indirect negotiations between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza. Israel believes there are four soldiers currently being held in Gaza, including the bodies of two killed during the devastating Israeli war in the besieged Belt in July 2014. However, Hamas says Hadar Goldin and Shaul Aaron are, in fact, still alive and well. custody.
For years, low-level talks between Hamas and Israel have aimed at securing an agreement that would see an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for arrested Israelis. By holding even more Palestinian troops, Tel Aviv hopes to strengthen its position in future talks.
However, the reality is quite different. The Israeli army has not returned Palestinian troops it accuses of attacking its soldiers for months. This affects all Palestinians, regardless of their alleged political affiliation.
Obviously, keeping corpses as a political strategy is illegal under international law. Article 130 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that anyone killed during armed conflict must be buried with honor … according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged.
If Gantz is truly convinced that keeping Palestinian troops on their feet while maintaining Israeli military occupation will bring about any vague definition of peace and security he has in mind, he is wrong.
However, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in September last year exactly one year before the final decision of the Israeli cabinets that the military has the right to continue the practice of holding Palestinian troops. While not the first country to use the dead as a tool of negotiation, the practice in Israel has lasted as long as the conflict itself and has been used in countless ways, with the aim of humiliation, collective punishment, and bargaining with the Palestinians.
During the Dirty War from 1976 to 1983, tens of thousands of Argentines disappeared. Students, intellectuals, trade unionists and thousands of other dissidents were killed by the country regime in an unprecedented genocide. The bodies of most of these victims were never found and they became known as los desaparecidos (missing). Similar calvary has been seen in other parts of the world. In Israel, however, the practice is not tied to a specific military regime or a particular leader: This means that the Palestinians disappeared in several generations.
Israel holds what are known as the graveyard of numbers. Salwa Hammad, a coordinator for the Palestinian National Campaign for the Withdrawal of Martyrs’ Bodies, estimates that there are six such cemeteries in Israel, although authorities refuse to disclose any details about their nature or exactly how many Palestinians are buried there. The Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights in Jerusalem estimates that there are 255 Palestinian bodies in these cemeteries, with 52 of them since 2016.
Here, the Palestinian victims are known not by name but by a number, which only Israel can refer to to identify the current individual. In 2011, the body of Hafez Abu Zant was released after being kept in one of these cemeteries for 35 years, Bernama reported. Hammad said: If the remains are in a graveyard with numbers, we take back in a black bag some bones, some soil and maybe their clothes.
Following the approval of his proposal by the Israeli cabinets, Gantz boasted of his ability to implement a broad policy of prevention since taking office. The truth is that Gantz is simply standing up and taking credit for a protracted Israeli policy that has been implemented by all previous governments, regardless of their political orientation.
If Gantz is truly convinced that keeping Palestinian troops on their feet while maintaining Israeli military occupation will bring about any vague definition of peace and security he has in mind, he is wrong. Such policies have proven to be a complete failure in the past. While Palestinian families have been devastated by this horrific practice, the ban on corpses has never extinguished a rebellion, neither in Argentina nor in Palestine.
Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His most recent is These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of War and Defense in Israeli Prisons (Clarity Press, Atlanta).
Responsibility: The views expressed by the writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News.
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