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Israel returns bodies of 2 Palestinians after withholding them for 7 months

May 24, 2016 11:01 A.M. (Updated: May 24, 2016 10:46 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities returned on Monday night and Tuesday morning the bodies of two Jerusalemite Palestinians killed by Israeli forces after attacks, after withholding them for more than seven months.

Hassan Manasra, 15, was shot dead on October 12 after allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack in the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev in occupied East Jerusalem, injuring two Israelis aged 13 and 21.

Alaa Abu Jamal, 22, was killed by Israeli police on October 13, after he rammed his car into a bus stop in West Jerusalem, killing one Israeli and injuring four others.

Manasra’s body was handed over to his family at the Lion’s Gate cemetery outside of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City at midnight, amid heavy deployment of Israeli security forces around the cemetery.

Participants in the funeral told Ma’an that Israeli troops inspected them thoroughly and seized their mobile phones before they were allowed into the cemetery.

In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, Israeli forces returned the Abu Jamal’s body to his family around dawn on Tuesday amid similarly heavy military presence.

Israeli authorities stipulated that no more than 40 people be allowed to attend the funerals. The families of Manasra and Abu Jamal payed deposits of 20,000 shekels ($5,176.65) and 40,000 shekels ($10,353.30) respectively to ensure compliance with Israeli conditions.

Israeli forces held Abu Jamal’s body at the Oz police station for two hours due to the large number of people around the cemetery, a Ma’an reporter said, before being handed over to the family once the crowd had dispersed.

Footage taken by Ma'an at the scene showed large numbers of Israeli troops in a tense situation with Palestinian bystanders.

Israel currently holds the bodies of at least a dozen Palestinians, including six Jerusalemites, killed by Israeli forces since October while they were allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks.

Earlier this month, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the release of the bodies of nine Palestinian from Jerusalem being withheld by Israel.

Three have already been released. The Palestinian Jerusalemites whose bodies remain withheld have been identified as Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, 19, Bahaa Elayyan, 22, Abd al-Muhsin Hassuneh, 21, Mohammad Abu Khalaf, 20, Muhammad Jamal al-Kalouti, 21, and Abd al-Malek Salih Abu Kharoub, 19.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli authorities returned the bodies of Maram and Ibrahim Abu Ismail, as well as Fouad Abu Rajab al-Tamimi.

Israel dramatically increased its policy of withholding bodies since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory since October, although it has scaled back on the policy in recent months.

A joint statement released in early April by Addameer and the 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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