High Court allows holding terrorists’ bodies as bargaining chips, reverses previous ruling

Israel’s High Court ruled that the government can hold the bodies of terrorists for future negotiations with terror organizations, reversing a 2017 ruling banning the practice.


A new ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice on Monday will allow the government to bury the terrorists’ bodies temporarily until a deal is reached with terrorist organizations, in which the bodies will be returned to the families and to the organizations they belong to in return for concessions to Israel.

Chief Justice Esther Hayut, along with Justices Neal Hendel, Yitzhak Amit and Noam Sohlberg gave the dramatic ruling. Justices Daphne Barak-Erez, George Karra and Uzi Vogelman opposed the ruling.

The judgment denied an appeal by the families of six terrorists whose bodies are currently held by Israel. The terrorists in question include the terrorist who murdered 13-year-old Hallel Ariel in her bed and those who murdered Rabbi Michael Mark and critically wounded his wife.

Hamas is currently holding two Israeli citizens, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, Lt. Hadar Goldin, of the elite Givati Reconnaissance Unit, and Cpl. Oron Shaul, of the Golani Brigade.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan applauded the High Court of Justice on the decision.

“I commend the High Court’s ruling, which corrected a mistake made in a previous ruling. A disgraceful terrorist deserves no dignity, neither alive nor dead,” he said.

“The government must be granted the opportunity to pressure terror organizations to return our soldiers’ bodies and our citizens, and not tie our hands in the war against the terrorists,” he added.

Meirav and Herzel Hajaj, parents of IDF soldier Shir Hajaj who was murdered by a terrorist in 2017 and representatives of the bereaved families’ organization “Choosing Life,” also spoke out in favor of the ruling.

“It’s absurd that the government must wait to hear from the High Court of Justice in order to enact basic security measures for the benefit of Israeli citizens. When the High Court of Justice does agree with the government’s policy however, the government must create true deterrence in the face of terror,” they said.