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Israeli authorities return body of slain Palestinian 'by mistake'

April 16, 2016 11:02 A.M. (Updated: April 17, 2016 3:58 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli army on Friday evening mistakenly returned the body of a Palestinian who was shot and killed by Israeli forces the previous day in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, an Israeli army spokesperson said.

The transfer of the body of Ibrahim Baradiya, 54, was reportedly made without Israeli government approval. The spokesperson added that the mistake occurred due to a political “misunderstanding,” and that the army was investigating the matter.

Palestinian military liaisons received the body on Friday, and it was taken to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. Baradiya’s family reportedly said he will be buried after noon prayers on Saturday.

Baradiya was shot and killed by Israeli forces Thursday at the entrance of al-Arroub refugee camp in Hebron after allegedly attempting to attack an Israeli soldier with an ax.

At least two Palestinians have been injured since and at least one detained by Israeli forces during clashes near the camp.

According to the UN, prior to Baradiya's killing there had been no Palestinian or Israeli fatalities recorded in the context of attacks or clashes for two consecutive weeks -- the longest period without deaths since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October that has left more than 200 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers.

The unrest has been marked by a surge of small-scale attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals -- predominantly on Israeli military targets -- which have left nearly 30 Israelis dead, with the majority of suspected Palestinian attackers shot dead on site.

The return of the bodies of slain Palestinians to their families became a contentious issue since the escalation of violence began after the Israeli authorities launched a policy of withholding the bodies of alleged attackers, in what rights groups decried as collective punishment of their families.

The policy was largely reversed in December, following concerns from Israel's security establishment that it was only further stoking tensions, although a number of bodies continue to be held.

However, a decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon three weeks ago stopped the transfer of Palestinian bodies held by the Israel to the Palestinian Authority, according to Haaretz.

Last month, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat urged the international community to pressure Israel to release the bodies, saying: "Israel's collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead."

A joint statement released earlier this month by Addameer and Israeli minority rights group 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."

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