Israel’s security establishment believes that the move would unnecessarily provoke the Palestinians.

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan.

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. Flickr.

Israeli Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, in an announcement that was met with harsh criticism from both the Shin Bet and the Israel Police, stated that Israel will not return the body of the East Jerusalem terrorist who attacked a prison guard with boiling water in early May. 

The terrorist, Aziz Awisat of Jabel Mukaber, was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment after he attempted to blow up a building in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem. He had completed 4 years of his sentence when he died in the hospital last week from a heart condition.

Both the Shin Bet and the Israel Police expressed their concern that withholding the terrorist’s body-  during the month of Ramadan especially- would cause further unrest in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They have also made it clear to Erdan that, though Awisat had been affiliated with Hamas, they do not believe that holding onto his body would put sufficient pressure on the terror organization to return the bodies of the Israeli soldiers still being held in Gaza.

The final decision, however, lies in the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Though many Israeli politicians have argued for a change in policy,  Netanyahu has consistently sided with the security establishment and has ordered the release of all deceased terrorists in Israel’s custody. 

The security establishment in Israel has long held the belief that refusing to return terrorists’ bodies to their families would incite extreme violence among the Palestinians.