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Israel returns body of slain Palestinian withheld for 5 months

Aug. 24, 2016 12:16 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 25, 2016 3:30 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities returned the slain body of 19-year-old Abd al-Malak Abu Kharoub, a resident from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr Aqab, at midnight on Wednesday after his body was withheld by Israeli for more than five months.

A Ma’an reporter on the scene said that Israeli authorities closed the entrances of Salah al-Din street, as forces were deployed near the al-Mujahidin cemetery where the burial took place.

Local sources told Ma’an that the Israeli police were deployed on rooftops of the buildings near the cemetery, while Israeli intelligence checked Abu Kharoub's grave before returning the body to the family.

A lawyer from prisoners’ rights group Addameer, Mohammed Mahmoud, said that Israeli authorities only allowed 25 people to attend the funeral in Jerusalem as one of several preconditions the family agreed to in order for the body to be released.

Israeli authorities also imposed a fine of 20,000 shekels ($5,298) that the family would be expected to pay if they had violated any of the conditions.
The head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) in Jerusalem, Nasser Qaws, said that Israeli authorities took pictures during the funeral of the attendees at Herod's Gate, where the cemetery is located.

Israeli authorities reportedly banned the family from speaking with the media following the burial.

Mahmoud added that negotiations with Israeli authorities over the return of the remaining slain Palestinian bodies held by Israel were ongoing.

Abu Kharoub was killed by Israeli forces on March 9 near the New Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City, along with Muhammad al-Kalouti, after the two opened fire on an Israeli bus in the illegal settlement of Ramot without any Israeli injuries.

The bodies of four Palestinians from Jerusalem are still being held by the Israeli authorities, identified by PPS as Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, Bahaa Elayyan, both killed in October 2015, Abd al-Muhsen Hassuneh, killed in December 2015, and Muhammad Abu Khalaf, killed in February.

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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