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Israel releases father of slain Palestinian advocating for return of withheld bodies

June 29, 2016 10:53 A.M. (Updated: June 29, 2016 5:35 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli police released from detention on Wednesday morning a Palestinian father who had been leading protests calling for the release of bodies of slain Palestinians withheld for months by Israel, a Palestinian prisoners rights group said.

Addameer lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud told Ma’an that Israeli police released Muhammad Elayyan from custody, albeit sentencing him to five days under house arrest and banning him from accessing the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem for 15 days.

Elayyan is the father of Bahaa Elayyan, who was killed alongside another Palestinian after they attacked an Israeli bus on Oct. 13, killing three Israelis with knives and a gun. His body, along with the bodies of at least seven other Palestinians killed while allegedly committing or attempting to commit attacks on Israeli targets, are still being held by Israel.

Elayyan, a lawyer from the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of East Jerusalem, has spearheaded a movement by the families of slain Palestinians demanding that Israeli authorities return the bodies, staging protests, most recently held on Sunday in Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank.

He was present at demonstration last week at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and outside of Israel’s Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine in Jaffa, where the bodies are being stored.

Elayyan was detained by Israeli forces from his home on Monday morning. Mahmoud said that Israeli intelligence questioned him about “his possible affiliation to a terrorist organization, as well as his participation in a protest inside Al-Aqsa mosque demanding that Israel returns bodies of slain Palestinians including his son.”

The Elayyan family home was first raided a week after the attack carried out by their son, and Israeli authorities issued a demolition order against the house in November as punishment.

Muhammad Elayyan has since been outspoken against the series of punitive measures carried out against his family and Israel’s policies of punitive action against all families of individuals who have been suspected of carrying out attacks.

Numerous rights groups have denounced Israel's punitive policies against Palestinians, such as home demolitions, sealing off the hometowns of attackers by military closures, withholding slain Palestinian bodies, and revoking work permits, as constituting a form of collective punishment and representing a clear violation of international law.
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