Israel returned the bodies of seven Palestinians who were killed in recent months as they allegedly carried out attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces.
While violence is a part of everyday life in the embattled region, tensions in West Bank escalated last year in September after Israeli incursions into Al-Aqsa mosque. The raids triggered multiple stabbings and attacks, killing 20 Israelis and more than 100 Palestinians.
Israeli authorities maintain that the cause of delay is to discourage the humanization of the purported attackers during mass rallies that accompany their funerals. However, a Palestinian forensic expert suspects foul play.
“Israel freezes the bodies of the Palestinian martyrs in mortuaries held at -35 degrees which prevents autopsy for 24 to 48 hours,” Sabir al-Aloul, the head of al-Quds University’s Institute for Forensic Medicine.
He added the “poor condition” of the bodies prevents autopsies that could reveal possible signs of torture and abuse such as the rumored harvesting of organs.
In a letter to the United Nations last November, Riyad Mansour, the ambassador for the Palestinian Authority, alleged Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces “were returned with missing corneas and other organs, further confirming past reports about organ harvesting by the occupying power.”
Last time such accusations emerged, it was in 2009 when a Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs.
The rumors were later confirmed in a television documentary, in which a former head of an Israeli institute admitted pathologists indeed harvested organs from dead Palestinians without the consent of their families but that the a practice it said ended in the 1990s.