Israeli on Friday went to return the remains of a Palestinian teenager who was killed in October only to be told by the family that it was the body of someone else.
The macabre mix-up, which the Palestinian armed forces called an “unfortunate mistake,” was likely to draw attention to Israel’s controversial policy of holding the remains of Palestinians killed while allegedly carrying out attacks, something rights groups say amounts to collective punishment of bereaved families. Israel says it serves as a deterrent for future attacks, The Associated Press reported.
Israel had planned to return the bodies of two Palestinians — Isra Khazimia and Amjad Abu Sultan — on “humanitarian grounds.” At the time of the alleged attacks, Khazimia was said to have had mental health issues while Abu Sultan was a minor.
But when they handed over the remains of Abu Sultan, his family informed the armed forces that it was the wrong body. The remains have not been publicly identified.
“Upon return of the body, it was revealed that the body was identified incorrectly. This unfortunate mistake is being reviewed by the relevant authorities,” the Israel armed forces said in a statement.
It apologized for the mistake and said the correct remains would be returned to the family on Saturday.
The Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, which coordinates day-to-day activities with Israel, said it was Abu Sultan’s family who noticed the body was not their son’s.
Abu Sultan, a teenager, was killed in October while attempting to throw firebombs at cars near an Israel settlement, the Israeli armed had said.
The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, a Palestinian rights group, says Israel is holding the remains of around 80 Palestinians, many in secret cemeteries where their graves are marked by numbered plaques.