The Israeli Supreme Court convened in occupied Jerusalem on Wednesday, 13 September in a hearing on the case of Palestinian families demanding the release of their imprisoned family members’ bodies, which have been held captive by the Israeli occupation since they were shot dead by occupation forces.

At the hearing, the Israeli prosecution stated that four of the Palestinians, Mohammed al-Faqih, Abdel-Hamid Abu Srour, Mohammed Tarayreh and Rami Awartani, had been buried secretly in Israeli “graves of the enemy dead,” a violation of an existing order preventing disposal or burial of the bodies until a ruling in the case.

Often called the “cemeteries of numbers,” these unnamed graves have been used to secretly bury Palestinians killed by occupation forces over years. There are at least 249 Palestinians’ bodies that have been buried in the “cemeteries of numbers” and remain missing.

The petition by Palestinian families is demanding the release of all of the imprisoned bodies, including these four as well as Mesbah Abu Sbeih, Adel Ankoush, Baraa Ibrahim Taha and Osama Ahmad Dahdouh Taha, and a separate case filed by the family of Fadi Qanbar. The families are represented by the Prisoners Affairs Commission, Freedoms Committee and Jerusalem Legal Aid Center.

Lawyer Mohammed Abu Sneineh emphasized that the burial of these four bodies does not cancel or make the petition moot; “any court decision will include the bodies of the martyrs that were buried,” he noted.

“I cannot begin to imagine how the families whose sons’ bodies have been held in the cemeteries of numbers for decades feel,” said Azhar Abu Srour, the mother of Abdel-Hamid Abu Srour, in an interview with the Electronic Intifada. “But it is our duty – as mothers of martyrs and as Palestinians – to fight for our right to bury our sons in their land and among their loved ones.”