Minister Freezes Return of Palestinian Bodies After anti-Israel Chanting at Funeral

Attorney representing the family of the deceased says they kept their commitment, but could not prevent a large crowd from gathering at the mosque in the village.

The crowd at the funeral of Alaa Abu Jamal on Monday night.
Screenshot/ynet

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday ordered a freeze on the return of the bodies of slain Palestinian attackers to their families in the West Bank, following anti-Israel chanting by a large crowd at a funeral on Monday night.

Hundreds of people participated in the East Jerusalem funeral of Alaa Abu Jamal, who was killed last October after ramming his car into pedestrians and then attacking them with a cleaver. One Israeli, Yeshayahu Kirshavski, 60, was killed in the attack.

Jamal's body had been withheld by Israel since the attack. It was returned this week after his family and the Israel Police reached an accommodation on the return of the body, according to which the body would be buried at night and only 40 people would attend the funeral.

The police's intention was to avoid disruptions and violence at the funeral. Nevertheless, hundreds of people chanting Palestinian national slogans turned out for the burial. Police prevented most of them from entering the cemetery and the burial went ahead as agreed.

"I have just seen the outrageous images from the funeral in which the terrorist’s family breached its commitments," Erdan wrote on Facebook "They lied to the High Court of Justice, and it’s a shame that the court believed them and pressured the police to hand over the bodies.”

Attorney Mohammed Mahmoud, who represents the Jamal family, on Tuesday rejected Erdan's accusation that the family had violated the terms of the agreement.

The minister, he said, was basing himself on media reports and should instead speak to police officers who were present at the funeral.

The nationalist slogans that were chanted only went on for a few minutes and occurred when the coffin left the mosque on its way to the cemetery. he said.

"The mosque is in the middle of the village and people can't be prevented from going there," he told Haaretz. "The family was responsible for ensuring that no more than the number agreed entered the cemetery."

What's more, Mahmoud said, most of the bodies had already been returned and only two remained in Israeli hands.