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Israel still holding body of Palestinian slain in filmed Hebron shooting

March 26, 2016 6:19 P.M. (Updated: March 27, 2016 3:59 P.M.)
Sabir al-Aloul, a coroner responsible for performing autopsies on the bodies of Palestinians
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- The body of a Palestinian whose brutal killing was caught on film, sparking international outcry, is still being held by Israeli authorities, with his family demanding that a Palestinian coroner partake in the autopsy.

A spokesman for the family of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif told Ma'an, "we reject the Israeli offer that a Palestinian doctor just be present at the autopsy; we demand that he takes part in the autopsy as well.”

“The family will decide on the legal and medical procedures following the autopsy," he added.

Al-Sharif was shot alongside Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi after the two allegedly stabbed and moderately wounded an Israeli soldier at a military checkpoint on Thursday in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron.

Al-Qasrawi was killed immediately and al-Sharif -- after lying motionless on the pavement for several minutes -- was shot in the head at point-blank range by an Israeli soldier.

Al-Sharif’s body was evacuated shortly after the second shooting and is still being held in Israeli custody.

Graphic footage of al-Sharif’s killing was filmed by a rights worker and resident of the area, and has since gone viral.

The Palestinian who caught the event on film told Ma’an he received threats the following day from Israeli settlers living illegally in the area and said he now feared for his and his family’s safety.

The body of al-Qasrawi was buried in a funeral Saturday attended by hundreds of Palestinians in the Hebron neighborhood of Wadi al-Hariya.

A Palestinian coroner responsible for performing autopsies on the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces condemned in December the practice by Israeli authorities to demand Palestinian bodies be buried immediately.

Head of Al-Quds University's Institute for Forensic Medicine, Sabir al-Aloul, said Israel’s conditional handover of bodies prevents autopsies from being carried out.

A number of Palestinian families signed a letter in December demanding that families should be allotted time to request an official autopsy report on their dead relatives. Autopsy reports are used in official paperwork necessary to file cases against Israeli authorities at the International Criminal Court.

According to autopsies al-Aloul has performed on Palestinians killed since Oct. 1, the coroner said that a number of those killed were “shot in the head and the chest many times from a very close distance,” similar to incident caught on film Thursday.

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."

A joint statement released earlier this month by rights groups Addameer and Adalah condemned Israel’s practice of withholding bodies as "a severe violation of international humanitarian law as well as international human rights law, including violations of the right to dignity, freedom of religion, and the right to practice culture."

The statement said it appeared "many" of the Palestinians whose bodies Israel was holding had been "extra-judicially executed by Israeli forces during alleged attacks against Israelis, despite posing no danger."

Al-Qasrawi and al-Sharif were among more than 200 Palestinians to be killed since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October.

The majority were killed while carrying out or attempting to carry out small-scale attacks that have left nearly 30 Israelis dead.
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