Palestinian dead should be ‘dragged through streets’

Israel’s far-right finance minister made the disturbing comments at a cabinet meeting on Sunday [Getty]

Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has called for the dead bodies of Palestinian prisoners to be “put in carts and dragged through the streets” to serve as a lesson for those planning to “carry out operations against Israeli targets”.

The extremist MK made the chilling comments at an Israeli cabinet meeting last Sunday where the release of prisoners’ bodies to their families was under discussion.

Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported on Monday that the meeting took place after a petition was submitted to Israel’s Supreme Court on behalf of the family of Walid Daqqa, who died in April, demanding his body be released and given to his family,

Daqqa, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from Baqa Al-Gharbiyyah, had been in prison since 1986 and died in April after having been diagnosed with cancer of the spinal cord in 2022.  

Sunday’s meeting saw Israeli ministers squabbling over the topic, with Defence Minister Yoav Gallant stating that “the power to approve the return of the bodies of terrorists” was in his portfolio and that he had decided for “Walid Daqqa’s body to be kept and for five other bodies to be released. However, [Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar] Ben Gvir decided to ignore me and order the police not to [carry out the order]”.

Reports suggest that Israel could be holding the writer’s body in anticipation of an exchange of captives with Hamas.

Bodies of Palestinian prisoners as ‘bargaining chips’

Ben Gvir responded: “This is a democratic state. I believe releasing the bodies of Israeli terrorists shows negligence. It also undermines the possibility to release them in exchange for hostages or the bodies of hostages. I don’t understand what is the motive for the panic and rush to release them. The bodies must be kept.”

A number of ministers backed Ben Gvir’s stance, including Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Transport Minister Miri Regev, before Smotrich proposed: “We should put the bodies in a cart and drag them through the centre of the city, like they did in the Torah, to serve as a lesson for others.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded the meeting by saying: “It was decided not to release the bodies of Israeli Arabs, until a different decision is taken.”

On Monday, Smotrich ordered Israel’s tax authority to deduct 130 million shekels from the tax funds collected for the PA so it could be transferred to 28 Israeli families he considered “impacted by terrorism” as well as Palestinian informants for Israel.

Right-wing Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom reported that Smotrich’s decision would allow judicial rulings unenforced for years to be implemented.

The amounts, some reaching into the millions per family, will be transferred in the coming days.

In recent years, Israel has passed several laws which have paved the way towards the “legal” seizure of PA funds, but the Israeli security establishment has up until now opposed this move, fearing it could harm the PA’s stability.

This article is based on two articles which appeared in our Arabic edition by Naif Zidane on 11 June 2024. To read the original articles click here and here. 

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