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Thousands attend funeral of 2 slain Palestinians

March 20, 2016 10:24 P.M. (Updated: March 21, 2016 10:35 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Thousands attended a funeral on Sunday in the village of Beit Fajjar in the occupied West Bank for two Palestinians who were shot dead after a stab attack left an Israeli soldier injured.

Israeli authorities returned the bodies of Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Kar Thawabta, 20, and Ali Jamal Muhammad Taqatqa, 19, at a military checkpoint near the village of Husan, before an ambulance took them to the Beit Jala hospital.

The funeral procession started from the Beit Jala hospital before heading to the slain Palestinians' hometown of Beit Fajjar in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem.

Mourners chanted slogans calling for revenge against Israel and raised Palestinian flags.

Thawabta and Taqatqa were killed on Thursday after carrying out a stab attack that injured an Israeli soldier near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit. Witnesses told Ma'an that the two Palestinians were shot "dozens" of times.

In the aftermath of the incident, Israeli forces closed the entrances to Beit Fajjar and detained at least one resident of the town.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an on Sunday night that the blockade on the village was still being enforced and did not know when the roads would be reopened.

Bethlehem district governor Jibril al-Bakri condemned on Friday Israeli sanctions against Beit Fajjar, noting that such actions qualify as “collective punishment” of the village's over 10,000 residents in violation of international law.

Over 200 Palestinians and just under 30 Israelis have been killed since October, and attempts to quell the violence by the international community have subsequently failed.

US and Israeli officials have criticized Palestinian leadership for failing to condemn a number of attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals -- the majority of which have been carried out on military targets -- while critics say Israel has practiced a policy of extrajudicial executions of Palestinians.

Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the wave of attacks, but said that Israeli security measures were failing to "address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians -- especially young people."

He added: "As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism."

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