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As Part of PCHR’s Serious Efforts since Day One when His Body detained and until Returning It Today to His Family, Israeli Supreme Court Decides to Release Body of Fisherman Isma’il Saleh Abu Riyalah

Ref: 34/2018

The Israeli Supreme Court decided to return the body of fisherman Isma’il Abu Riyalah to his family in Gaza after the interim order not to release it was cancelled. The decision to realse the body came after serious efforts exerted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR),  as the legal representative of the fisherman’s family to return the body of fisherman Abu Riyalah. PCHR immediately started its efforts immediately after the incident occurred 25 February 2018, the day the Israeli naval soldiers shot dead Abu Riyalah while fishing in Gaza Sea. As PCHR contacted the Israeli Liaison to inquire the fate of three fishermen who were on a boat at which the Israeli naval forces opened fire. PCHR received a response that 1 fisherman was killed while 2 were wounded and later released. On 26 February 2018, PCHR continued contacting the Israeli Liaison to return Abu Riyalah’s body, but the Israeli Liaison responded that they had not received any decision regarding the release of the body. In light of the above, on 27 February 2018, PCHR sent to the Israeli Public Prosecution a letter, which is a pre-trial procedure (i.e. before filing an appeal to the court) to release the fisherman’s body and hand it to his family so they can bid farewell and bury him in the Gaza Strip.

On 06 March 2018, PCHR received the Israeli prosecution’s response which said that, “the fisherman’s case does not meet the conditions identified in the Knesset’s decision taken on 01 January 2017 and relevant to not returning the bodies of “sabotages” and keeping them under the Israeli custody.  In light of the above, the State will return the body of Abu Riyalah to be buried in the Gaza Strip after 72 hours of stating this declaration as long as there was no further decision issued by the court giving another order.”

In an unjustified move, on 08 March 2018, the Israeli Supreme Court issued an interim judicial order not to return the body of fisherman Isma’il Abu Riyalah to his family in Gaza City. The court said that this order came upon a request of the family of the soldier Hadar Golden detained by the Palestinian Armed Groups in the Gaza Strip.  The court postponed considering the case to 13 March 2018. Yesterday on 13 March 2018, the court hearing was held and the Israeli Public Prosecution presented its brief to the court which approved that the detention of the fisherman Abu Riyalah’s body  does not apply to the standards and parallels under which it undertook not to hand over the bodies to the Palestinian side. The prosecution confirmed that the continued detention of the body is unjustified and contrary to all international standards and laws and undertaking not to detain the bodies does not take place in such an incident. The response of the Hadar’s family, who previously refused releasing the body, was to let the court decide itself if detaining the body is in conformity with the standards set by the government or not. After deliberation, the court decided to cancel the interim order and return the body to Gaza today at 10:00. PCHR strongly emphasizes that the Israeli inhuman policy of detaining the Palestinian corpses and bartering them is unjustified and immoral and calls for ending this policy which is in a flagrant disregard for all religious and human values in all cases and circumstances.