RAMALLAH, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Tuesday called for international intervention to force Israel to release bodies of Palestinians it has been withholding.
Erekat made the call in identical messages he sent on behalf of the Palestinian president and the PLO Executive Committee to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and foreign ministers of European Union states.
In the messages, the Palestinian official called for "moving immediately and exerting political and diplomatic pressure to oblige Israel to release withheld bodies of Palestinian martyrs without preconditions."
Erekat said in a statement that the Israeli decision to withhold bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past months is a political decision and comes as part of Israel's blackmail and collective punishment of mourning families.
He described the withholding of Palestinians bodies as equivalent to psychological torture, which increases tensions.
Israel has been withholding bodies of Palestinians who were killed in the mounting tensions since last October, which have led to the killing of over 200 Palestinians and nearly 40 Israelis.