Palestinian mothers demand Israel releases bodies of their loved ones
Several Palestinian women commemorated Mother's Day (21 March) by organising an event in Ramallah to highlight Israel's policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinian prisoners.
Adlah Ghattas, a bereaved Palestinian mother, said there is uncertainty about the whereabouts of her son Fadi who, according to Israeli media, was shot and killed near Al-Khalil last year after attempting to carry out a stabbing attack.
"It's been 200 days," Adlah told The New Arab.
"My mind can't believe that my son was martyred. I'm still waiting to see his body to accept that he's a martyr," the 47-year-old Palestine refugee added.
Adlah lives in the Deheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem. She told TNA that the Israeli authorities have yet to produce official documents confirming her son is dead.
"He could even be alive, wounded in a hospital," Adlah remarked, highlighting the daily uncertainty she and her family experience.
Hussein Shujaiah, the coordinator for the campaign to reclaim the bodies of martyrs, told TNA that since 2018 Israel barred Palestinians from seeing the bodies of their relatives killed by Israeli forces. The policy, he said, has added to the tension.
"The campaign to reclaim the bodies of martyrs" was launched in 2007 and has succeeded in releasing as many as 121 bodies," according to Shujaiah.
Shujaiah estimates that Israel has buried over the years 256 Palestinians in a graveyard known as the "graveyard of the numbers," meaning that each buried body is assigned a number rather than a name.
According to Shujaiah, Israel has 133 bodies kept in refrigerators. However, it is unknown if these bodies are preserved to be later released at a time of Israel's choosing.
Israel resumed the policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians killed in different circumstances in 2015.