PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat talks after an Arab Peace Initiative Committee meeting in 2012. (AFP/File)
JERICHO (Ma'an) -- PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Tuesday called on the Middle East Quartet to pressure Israel to return the bodies of alleged Palestinians attackers still being held by the Israeli authorities.
The call was made in an open letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"I call upon you to instantly take action and exert diplomatic and political pressures on Israel to immediately release bodies of Palestinian martyrs killed by Israeli forces and settlers," Erekat wrote.
He said that withholding the bodies of Palestinians was a form of "collective punishment" by Israel against the Palestinian people, which he described as illegal under international law.
Erekat gave the full list of Palestinians whose bodies are being held by Israeli authorities:
- Thaer Abu Ghazala, held for 104 days
- Hasan Manasra, held for 101 days
- Bahaa Ulayyan, held for 100 days
- Alaa Abu Jamal, held for 100 days
- Ahmad Abu Shaaban, held for 99 days
- Muataz Uweisat, held for 96 days.
- Muhammad Nimir, held for 70 days
- Omar Skafi, held for 45 days
- Abd al-Muhsin Hassuna, held for 37 days
- Musab Ghazali, held for 25 days
Since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory at the beginning of October, Israel has held the bodies of dozens of Palestinians it says were attempting to attack Israelis.
Israel's Public Security Ministry said in mid-October that the bodies of alleged Palestinians attackers would no longer be returned to their families in a bid to stem protests that frequently accompany their funerals.
However, Israel's withholding of bodies has only raised tensions across the occupied Palestinian territory, and most bodies have since been returned to their families.