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In Photos:
In photos: Thousands bury man whose body was kept by Israel since 2002

Jan. 27, 2014 7:23 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 29, 2014 3:00 P.M.)
Thousands of Palestinians gathered on Monday to lay the body of Shaker Hamamra to rest in his hometown of Husan west of Bethlehem.

Hamamra was killed by Israeli forces in 2002, but his remains were only returned to his family on Sunday.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Hamamra was shot dead by Israeli forces on March 26, 2002 in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Malha.

At the time, the 26-year-old was driving with his friend Khalid Mousa, 19, to Jerusalem from Bethlehem.

"Israeli occupation forces claimed that the two young men were going to carry out a suicide bombing in Jerusalem. However, television photos showed that they did not carry any explosives," a report by the center says.

The funeral procession began at the Beit Jala governmental hospital with a military march that included the participation of Palestinian Authority officials.

The procession then moved to nearby al-Khader village before finally reaching the village of Husan, where he was buried in the local cemetery.

Hamara's mother expressed her joy at receiving the body of her son after 12 years, saying that at least now she has a grave.

She demanded that Israel hands the remains of all Palestinians held in numbered graves over to their families.

So far this year, four Palestinian families have received the remains of relatives who were killed by Israeli forces and whose bodies had been held in Israel. Two more are scheduled to be delivered this week.

Salim Khillah, a spokesman for a committee to retrieve Palestinian remains from Israeli custody, told Ma'an on Jan. 17 that Israeli authorities had decided to return the remains of 36 Palestinians held in Israeli "numbered graves."

Khallah said Israel had agreed to return the remains as a gesture to encourage the PLO to continue with peace negotiations.

But a spokesman for an Israeli human rights group told Ma'an Thursday that the delivery of the remains was the result of a Supreme Court decision.

A spokesman for HaMoked said that the decision came in response to the organization's demands for the release of the remains of every Palestinian currently held in Israel's custody.
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