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Jerusalem family rejects son’s body after Israeli handover, another buried

March 22, 2016 10:41 A.M. (Updated: March 22, 2016 3:33 P.M.)
Palestinians carry the body of 14-year-old Laith Khaldi during his funeral on Aug. 1, 2015, in Jalazun refugee camp, in the occupied West Bank. (AFP/File)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli authorities late Monday returned the bodies of two Jerusalemite Palestinians were were shot dead after allegedly carrying out attacks, one of which was rejected by family members.

Witnesses said the Lions’ Gate area of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City where the handover took place “looked like a military barracks” as Israeli forces heightened their presence for the return of the bodies of 15-year-old Hassan Khalid Manasra and Omar Skafi, 21.

Outrage erupted when the family of 15-year-old Manasra found their son’s body frozen, in violation of a mutual agreement set up between the Israeli authorities and family members.

The father of Manasra upon exiting steel barriers set up by Israeli police for the release told Ma’an his son’s body was “frozen like an ice cube, so we refused to receive it.”

“We accepted the preconditions set by the [Israeli] occupation so we can bury him [Manasra] in dignity, and our only demand was that the body shouldn’t be frozen,” Manasra’s uncle Ahmad told Ma’an.

“The [Israeli] occupation is trying through these humiliating practices to put pressure on families. This child had been executed under ambiguous conditions which nobody knows, as they have never been revealed,” Ahmad added.

Lawyer for Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer Muhammad Mahmoud confirmed that the teen’s father refused to receive the body of his son because it was frozen.

“It was a personal decision by the family,” he said, adding that the Israeli authorities had previously agreed to allot enough time after the removal of bodies from the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in order that they not be frozen on delivery.

Following the attempted return of Manasra’s body, Israeli forces at 1:30 a.m returned the body of Omar Skafi.

Israeli forces deployed heavily around the cemetery near Lions’ Gate during Skafi’s funeral, as soldiers allowed access into the cemetery only to family members whose names were on a list. Some 32 members of the Skafi family were reportedly present at the funeral.

A relative present at the funeral told Ma’an that “blood was dripping from his [Skafi’s] body filling the shroud as if he had been killed at that moment.”

The bodies of Manasra and Skafi were among several bodies to be held by the Israeli authorities of Palestinians to be shot dead while allegedly carrying out attacks on Israelis since unrest increased in October.

The authorities began reversing the policy in November following uproar from Palestinian families and communities. While the majority of bodies have been returned to families in the occupied West Bank, a number of bodies of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem continue to be held.

Manasra’s body has been held since Oct. 12 when was shot dead after he and his 13-year-old cousin Ahmad Manasra carried out a stabbing attack near the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev near Beit Hanina.

Two Israelis, aged 13 and 21, were seriously injured in the incident, while Ahmad was knocked over by a car and seriously wounded. Ahmad was taken into custody and has since been charged with attempted murder.

Meanwhile, Skafi was shot dead in Jerusalem on Dec. 6 after he allegedly hit an Israeli with his car before stabbing another.

Prisoners’ rights group Addameer last week appealed to an Israeli court for the return of 13 bodies of Jerusalemite Palestinians still being withheld, including the bodies of Manasra and Skafi.

Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat urged the international community on March 4 to pressure Israel to release the bodies of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces while allegedly carrying out attacks.

He said: "Israel's collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead."
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