Israel admits harvesting organs of dead Palestinians

Israel has admitted to unlawfully taking organs from dead people, including Palestinians, in the 1990s without the prior permission of the families of the donors.

The revelation comes in a newly-released interview by the former head of the country's Forensic Institute, given in 2000, and has been confirmed by the Health Ministry of Israel.

The ministry says that, in the 1990s, all the organs were used for medical purposes and came from many different ethnic groups.

Demonstrators holds placards reading: "Anti-Semitism under the cover of freedom of expression," during a protest outside the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv (AFP Photo / Jack Guez)
The recent admission from Jehuda Hiss, the former head of Israel's Forensic Institute, has already been confirmed by several sources.

It follows a report by a Swedish newspaper on different allegations which claimed young Palestinians had disappeared – only to be returned by the Israelis with their bodies ripped open.

The initial investigation was flatly denied by Israel and branded anti-Semitic.

“I have a computer list containing 133 Palestinians murdered by Israelis without trial,” says Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom, “And out of those there were 59 taken to Israel against international law and the autopsies performed on them against international law.”

While Donald Bostrom says further investigation is necessary, Raanan Gissin, a former adviser to Ariel Sharon in 2001-2006, says the reports have gone completely over the top.

He says that, even though Israel is one of the leading countries in organ transplant, the facts should be separated from the myths.

“This sounds very strange,” Gissin says “In order to harvest organs here in Israel you have to have the consent of the family or the donor. I think in the nineties, when things were not regulated, there may have been cases, since there was no law.”