A Month Later, Israel Still Holding Body of Palestinian Teen Who Stabbed Cop

Following petition by 14-year-old's family, state says it will hand over his body within two weeks

Security and rescue personnel walk near the scene where Palestinians were shot by Israeli police after carrying out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, August 15, 2019.
REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israel is still holding the remains of a Palestinian teen shot dead a month ago, after stabbing and lightly wounding a policeman on the Temple Mount.

Nassim Abu Rumi, of the town of el-Azariyeh east of Jerusalem, and a friend of 17, assaulted the officer on August 15, as they were leaving the Temple Mount via the Chains Gate in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

The police responded by shooting at the boys, killing Abu Rumi and wounding his friend, who was treated in hospital and charged with attempted murder.

The state has so far refused to release Abu Rumi’s remains to his family for burial. It said a few days ago in response to a High Court petition that the body would be released within two weeks, but a scheduled hearing on the petition has since been canceled, and it remains unclear when the remains will be handed over.

Prosecutors have asked for more time to decide on the matter. “The issue of the return of the body is being studied by the relevant officials and a final decision has not yet been made,” the prosecution said on September 3.

Justice Neal Hendel responded: “Under the circumstances, including the young age of the deceased, it could have been expected that the state’s respondents would decide in the window of time they were given, at their request.” Last Tuesday, the date that Justice Hendel set for the hearing, the prosecution issued a new response – that it had been decided to release the body to the family. The response said the court would be informed within 10 days, but did not give a precise date.

The state’s response came a day after an expanded High Court bench ruled that the state could continue to hold the bodies of terrorists for the purpose of negotiations with terrorist organizations. The response referred to this decision by saying that “the decision-making processes in the matter of the petitioner were conducted before the ruling was published.”

Nevertheless, the family’s attorney, Mohammed Mahmoud, said he believes the state will not continue to hold Abu Rumi’s body. “It is a pity that it has been held until now, a pity that they even considered holding it. They should have released it immediately,” he said.