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Israeli court sets date for hearing on return of 15 Palestinian bodies

April 24, 2016 5:07 P.M. (Updated: April 24, 2016 6:41 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israel’s High Court on Sunday ruled to hold a hearing next month in order to reach a decision on Israel’s return of the bodies of 15 Palestinians who were killed while allegedly carrying out attacks on Israeli forces.

A lawyer who filed appeals on behalf of the slain Palestinians’ families, Muhammad Mahmoud, told Ma’an the court will convene on May 5 to set a date and terms for the handover of the bodies by the Israeli authorities.

Sunday’s hearing came after initially being postponed by the court due to recent Jewish holidays, said Mahmoud, working on behalf of prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

Addameer reported following an April 18 hearing that the return of the 15 bodies would likely be “subject to extreme security measures” by the Israeli authorities.

The Israeli leadership in October approved a policy to withhold the bodies of Palestinians who were shot dead while allegedly attempting or carrying out attacks on Israelis.

Over 200 Palestinians have been killed during the recent unrest -- the majority during alleged attacks -- and Israel held the bodies of least 80 Palestinians for various periods of time before slowly reversing the policy in December, according to UN figures.

The policy had not been carried out with such frequency since the Second Intifada and sparked major backlash among Palestinian communities.

According to Addameer, Israel continues to withhold 15 bodies of those killed during recent unrest, despite the fact that some of the families “agreed to the extremely harsh and arbitrary conditions” demanded by the authorities for their release.

Addameer earlier this month called Israel’s decision keep the bodies “an extremely humiliating practice and one degrading to the human dignity of the deceased, family members, and to the cultural and religious norms of Palestinian society.”

Last month, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat for his part 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."

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