A Palestinian Bedouin member of Knesset on Wednesday said Israel’s holding of Palestinian bodies was “immoral and inhuman,” as the Israeli government continued to grapple with the legitimacy of the policy.
”As usual, every immoral act is accompanied by a security-related explanation, but what is the explanation for this act?” MK Talab Abu Arar of the Joint List asked during a Knesset meeting, according to a Knesset press release.
Israel is holding the bodies of 22 Palestinians who were shot dead following their alleged involvement in attacks on Israeli military and civilians during October.
The decision to hold the bodies came amid a series of punitive measures set forth by the Israeli government in response to the attacks.
During Wednesday’s Knesset meeting, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon defended the government's policy, although he said that he believed it was only "prudent" to hold bodies where there was the risk of a large funeral, which he believes "incite" against Israel.
"Holding onto bodies is in itself not a deterrent to potential terrorists, as opposed to the demolition of houses or revocation of residency which are proven dissuasive measures," he said.
He said that the government only intended to hold bodies "on a case-by-case basis, where the main consideration is if there'll be a massive funeral."
He added: "This policy is consistent and prudent, and takes into account moral and security considerations."
Yaalon's statement brought criticism from the further right members of Israel’s parliament.
MK Oded Forer, a member of the Yisrael Beitenu party, denounced the government for failing to follow through on "true" right-wing policy. ”Which government should we join?" he asked.
"The one that on the first day announces it is not returning the bodies of terrorists and on the second returns them quietly? Stop talking strong and acting weak."
Palestinian members of the Knesset have repeatedly been at odds with the right-wing government regarding its response to recent violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
In rejection of a bill being passed earlier this week to "lower the bar" for prosecuting incitement to terrorism, MK Yousef Jabareen of the Palestinian Joint List said the move would “erode democratic values” of the state.
Last week MK Bassel Ghattas, also a Joint List member, visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in opposition to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that MKs refrain from visiting the flashpoint holy site.
The MK visited the site hours before addressing the Knesset in an attempt to appeal a decision to install surveillance cameras at Al-Aqsa.
Despite opposition, the right-wing government has continued to carry out measures that rights groups have termed “collective punishment” over the last month
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