Israel asks Egypt to prevent body of Palestinian killed in Kuala Lumpur from being returned to Gaza

Royal Malaysian Police forensic officers collect evidence at the crime scene where Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh was reportedly assassinated in a drive-by motorcycle shooting in Kuala Lumpur on April 21, 2018.
Royal Malaysian Police forensic officers collect evidence at the crime scene where Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh was reportedly assassinated in a drive-by motorcycle shooting in Kuala Lumpur on April 21, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - Israel has asked Egypt not to allow the body of a Palestinian engineer and Hamas member who was murdered in Kuala Lumpur to be brought back to Gaza.

The Palestine News Network reported on Sunday (April 22) that Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman had sent a "request in this regard by conventional methods", adding that it would not be under Israel's control since the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip falls under Egyptian sovereignty.

Mr Lieberman said the decision was in line with Israel's policy on preventing the transfer of the bodies of martyrs from the Hamas movement for burial in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett had on Saturday vowed to prevent Mr Fadi M.R. al-Batsh's body from being brought back to Gaza for burial without the release of Israeli soldiers detained by Hamas in Gaza.

In addition to the soldiers, two Israeli civilians, Mr Avera Mengistu and Mr Simcha Goldin, are being held by Hamas after entering Gaza of their own volition in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The bodies of two slain Israeli soldiers, Simcha Goldin and Oron Shaul, are also being kept by the Palestinian militant group.

Al-Batsh, who hailed from Jabalia town in the north of Gaza, was assassinated in front of the Idaman Puteri condominium in Setapak while heading for morning Islamic prayers at about 6am on Saturday.

The Palestinian embassy in Malaysia was reportedly coordinating with Malaysian and Egyptian authorities to ensure the transfer of Al-Batsh's body to Gaza at his family's request.