Israel Police Refusing to Release Body of Sudanese Assailant for Burial

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A man with an umbrella walks by the spot in Ashkelon where a Sudanese national was shot and killed after stabbing a soldier on February 7.
A man walks by the spot in Ashkelon where a Sudanese national was shot and killed after stabbing a soldier on February 7. Credit: Ilan Assayag

The police are refusing to release for burial the body of the Sudanese national who stabbed a soldier in Ashkelon, even though his family doesn’t live in Israel, making it unlikely that his funeral will turn into a public show of support for terrorism – the reason the government doesn’t release the bodies of Palestinian terrorists.

On February 7 Abdul Aziz Mohammed was shot to death when he stabbed a soldier, lightly wounding him. When his family learned of his death, they asked a cousin who lives in Israel to tend to the burial of Mohammed (who also went by the name Kamel Hassan). The cousin went to the Ashkelon police and after he was questioned by both police and the Shin Bet security service, he was told that Mohammed’s body could only be released when the investigation of the attack was completed.

Sometime later the cousin approached the Ashkelon police again, and was referred to the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine. The institute told him that the body had been transferred to the military and the Israel Defense Forces referred him back to the police. In the end, the cousin was asked where he planned to bury the body and that a decision on releasing the remains would be made accordingly.

The relative replied that he could not afford to send the body back to Sudan, and expressed willingness to bury his cousin anywhere the police suggested. Since the cousin is the deceased’s only relative in Israel, few people are expected to attend the funeral. Nevertheless, the police have yet to release Mohammed’s body.

Attorneys Smadar Ben Natan and Anu Deuelle-Luski recently petitioned the High Court of Justice on behalf of the cousin, asking for the body to be released.

“The police are not respecting the dead and the feelings of his relatives, the last honor due them irrespective of the action he took,” argued Ben Natan. “It’s hard not to link this to their identities as asylum seekers from Sudan. In this case the explanations given in the context of Palestinian attackers with regard to exploiting the funeral to incite do not apply, and the police are essentially giving no reason for not releasing the body and for demeaning the dead.”

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