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Israel backtracks on decision to return body of slain Palestinian

Aug. 9, 2016 4:44 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 9, 2016 7:22 P.M.)
File photo of Bahaa Elayyan
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence service, reportedly backtracked Monday evening on a decision made earlier in the day to return the body of Bahaa Elayyan, whose body has been held by Israel for nearly 10 months.

The Elayyan family said in a statement that Muhammad Elayyan, Bahaa’s father, received a phone call from the Shin Bet on Monday evening informing the family that Israel had decided to reduce the number of participants allowed to take part in Bahaa’s funeral to 20 people, before receiving another call telling them that the burial would have to take place in the al-Mujahidin cemetery near Herod’s Gate in occupied East Jerusalem, to which the family refused.

According to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, the Elayyan family had signed an agreement with Israeli intelligence on Monday morning to return Bahaa's body, pending a number of preconditions.

Among the preconditions that the family and Israeli authorities had previously agreed to were that no more than 30 people could attend his funeral -- an increase from its initial stipulation that only 20 people attend -- mandating that it take place at the Lion’s Gate cemetery in the Old City, and that the family pay a bail of 20,000 shekels ($5,218).

Israel’s actions on Monday evening not only reduced the number of funeral participants to its original number, but also changed the location of the funeral, causing the Elayyan family to say that the “Israeli police are procrastinating, torturing and playing with the feelings of our family.”

They added that in their opinion, Israeli police did not intend to return their son’s body, and that they would most likely have to wait until a decision was made by the Israeli Supreme Court regarding their appeal.

In June, Israeli police decided that slain Palestinians from East Jerusalem accused of "terrorism" would no longer have funerals in their neighborhoods or villages, but would instead be buried in cemeteries chosen by the police.

Elayyan, 22, was killed on Oct. 13 after carrying out a stabbing and shooting attack on a bus in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, killing three Israelis.

The bodies of at least seven Palestinians are still being held by Israel, with Elayyan’s father Muhammad Elayyan spearheading the movement of slain Palestinians’ families demanding their release.

Muhammad Elayyan was detained by Israeli forces for several days in June over his involvement in protests.

Israel dramatically increased its policy of withholding bodies since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory since October, in which nearly 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis.

Human rights organizations have also widely condemned the policy, with prisoners’ rights group Addameer calling it a form of “collective punishment” against Palestinians who had not been accused of any wrongdoing, also noting that it “adds to the severe grief and trauma of families of the deceased.”
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