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Palestinians in Ramallah stage sit-in demanding return of slain Palestinian's body

Nov. 19, 2016 6:54 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 20, 2016 4:08 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians organized a sit-in at the al-Manara square in the heart of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank on Saturday, demanding the release of the body of Maen Abu Qaraa and other slain Palestinians still being held by Israeli authorities.

Deputy Secretary General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DLP) Qais Abd al-Karim said during the sit-in that holding the body of Abu Qaraa was “evidence of the brutality and inhumanity of the Israeli occupation, which is still holding dozens of bodies of killed Palestinians.”

Abd al-Karim stressed that more protests of this “brutality” would continue, adding that “Israel not only kills our children unjustly but also holds their bodies in a clear violation to all international laws.”

Abu Qaraa, 23, was killed by Israeli forces on Nov. 3 after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack near the illegal Israeli Ofra settlement, between the Ramallah-area villages of Silwad and Deir Jarir.

In the days following Abu Qaraa’s death, Israeli forces imposed several road and checkpoint closures across the Ramallah district, making travel for residents of the district’s northern villages extremely difficult.

Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces following the emergence of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, having repeatedly claimed that funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state.

However, following an uproar of protest among Palestinians over the policy, Israeli authorities began scaling down the practice, although a number of bodies still remain withheld.

When Israeli authorities have decided to return slain bodies and allow funerals in the occupied Palestinian territory, the ceremonies have been typically restricted by a long list of conditions imposed by Israeli authorities, including limiting the number of attendees and the deployment of Israeli soldiers throughout the event.

Palestinian families have also been forced to pay large financial deposits to the Israeli government as a collateral for potential “incitement” during the funerals and to ensure that families abide by Israeli-imposed conditions.

Israeli police announced in June that slain Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem suspected of “terrorism” would no longer be able to have funerals in their neighborhoods or villages, but would instead be buried in cemeteries chosen by the Israeli police.

A joint statement released by Addameer and Israeli minority rights group Adalah in March 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."

The statement said it appeared "many" of the Palestinians whose bodies Israel was holding had been "extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces during alleged attacks against Israelis, despite posing no danger."

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