NABLUS (AFP) - A Palestinian minister on Tuesday accused Israel of trafficking the organs of Palestinians, after a similar claim by a Swedish newspaper triggered a diplomatic row.
Israel "is hiding the bodies of Palestinian martyrs to remove the proof of their crimes, including organ trafficking," prisoner affairs minister Issa Qaraqae said.
He spoke at a rally held in the West Bank city of Nablus to demand the return to their families of bodies of dozens of Palestinians killed by the Israeli military.
Arab-Israeli MP Mohammed Barakei challenged Israel to disprove the claim.
"It is our right to ask ourselves what Israel's reasons are for keeping the bodies of martyrs," he said at the demonstration marking the "national day for the restitution of martyrs' bodies" decreed by the Palestinian government.
"Have the bodies been mutilated? My answer is yes, barring proof to the contrary. Have their organs been stolen? My answer is yes, barring proof to the contrary," Barakei said.
Palestinian NGOs say Israel is holding the bodies of about 275 Palestinians.
Last month Sweden's Aftonbladet claimed that Israeli soldiers had snatched Palestinian youths to steal their organs, but the author of the report admitted he had no proof of this.
Israel angrily rejected the claims, comparing them to medieval blood libels against Jews.
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Last Updated (Tuesday, 08 September 2009 15:33)