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Protesters demand return of Palestinian bodies in occupied East Jerusalem

Feb. 4, 2016 1:38 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 5, 2016 3:47 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian youths in the occupied East Jerusalem neigborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir on Thursday took to the streets in protest of Israel's continued policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians killed after attempted, alleged and actual attacks against Israelis, locals said.

Locals said the protest quickly erupted into clashes, as Israeli forces attempted to suppress the youths. Israeli forces reportedly used rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades against protesters, who responded by hurling rocks and shooting off fireworks at Israeli forces.

Three of the 10 bodies being held by Israeli authorities are Palestinians from the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood.

Late last month, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat called on the Middle East Quartet to pressure Israel to return the bodies of alleged Palestinian attackers still being held by the Israeli authorities.

The call was made in an open letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"I call upon you to instantly take action and exert diplomatic and political pressures on Israel to immediately release bodies of Palestinian martyrs killed by Israeli forces and settlers," Erekat wrote.

He said that withholding the bodies of Palestinians was a form of "collective punishment" by Israel against the Palestinian people, which he described as illegal under international law.

It is unknown if any of the parties responded to the request.

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