My grandmother passed recently. I remember being viscerally angry as the undertakers carried her coffin. She wasn’t theirs to handle. She was my family. They didn’t know her. They just cared about the profit. She was my family, my memories. Mine. All I wanted at that moment was to get their hands off her coffin. Were it not for my tears I would have ripped them off of her. They were not her family, they did not know her, they did not grow up with her. They had no right.
She was buried in an Orthodox cemetery(she wasn’t Orthodox) where the rules are that only men get to help with covering the body with dirt. I did it anyway. She was my grandmother. I didn’t care about their traditions and rules. She was my family, they did not know her, they did not care about her. They had no right.
It was an assault, it was violent. Not legally, but viscerally. It hurt. This is what Israel does as POLICY to the Palestinian people.
They have no right.
That is why the story of Israel keeping the bodies of the Palestinians it murders is so atrocious to me. Beyond the politics there is visceral pain. It is a torturous wound being inflicted on the families. It is a way for Israel to not just bring the pain to families that their loved one, often a teenager or in his or her early 20s is gone, but also that the body is in the hands of a violent and racist enemy that seeks their absolute annihilation.
Firstly, it is a religious desecration. In Islam, like in Judaism, the body should be buried as soon as possible.
Secondly, and most atrociously, it is a humiliation and a collective punishment of the family. Collective punishment being a war crime and a violation of international law.
It is not overt violence, like a teenager being shot in cold blood even though she was unarmed or a family being burned alive or an elderly man being assaulted because he dared to pray in his mosque. But it is violent, it is savage. It is torturous cruelty and it shows the depravity of Israel. That these people, who, like all people, have experienced loss have so dehumanised Palestinians that they inflict such a wound on the family. A wound that may also be followed by a home demolition before their child’s blood has had time to dry from the pavement where he was slaughtered.
They have no right.
There is the added risk of desecration. Israelis have thrown pork on the bodies of their victims. A female victim, 18 year old Hadeel Hashlamoun, was murdered because she did not want to be searched by a male IDF officer. She was a religious girl, who wore the niqab. After her murder, the Israeli thugs took pictures of her naked dead body, shared them on Facebook and made disgusting comments.
The families are left, in agony. Not just at the loss. But also with the knowledge that cruel and racist people, who are encouraged to be extra cruel and extra racist are handling the body. It is agonising. It is cruel. It is a vicious, VIOLENT assault on innocent people.
It rips at the very soul of a family. Of a mother, a father, a brother, a sister. It is as though Israel stabbed each family member with a knife, dug it deep and twisted it for extra suffering. It is torture.
They have no right.
My grandmother lived through WWII. She was forced into exile where she suffered malaria, where she had to go to work full time in a factory at the age of 15 working day and night. When she came back, she learned all the family and friends that remained were slaughtered and buried in a mass grave at Babi Yar or died in battle fighting the Nazis.
Palestinians were exiled during the Nakba, often at gun point. But they were not allowed to come home. Today the Nakba continues, the murders and the expulsions continue. The torture of innocent families continues and the world turns away and says “Israel has a right to defend itself.”
Israel has no right and the world has no right to continue to let this happen.
إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ