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Israel releases 9 slain Palestinian bodies withheld by Israeli state for up to 6 months

Dec. 23, 2016 8:46 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 24, 2016 9:35 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) – Israeli authorities Friday released nine Palestinian bodies that have been held by Israel for between 15 days and six months to the occupied West Bank, the second delivery of Palestinian bodies in a week following a decision by Israeli authorities to release the bodies of Palestinians who were killed committing or allegedly committing attacks.

Five of the bodies were returned to the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, identified as Mustafa Baradiya from the al-Arroub refugee camp whose body has been held since July 18; Ameer Jamal al-Rajabi and Muhannad Jameel al-Rajabi from Hebron City -- killed alongside one another on Sep. 19; Issa Salim Mahmoud Tarayra from Bani Naim, held since Sep. 20; and Khalid Ahmad Elayyan Ikhlayyil from Beit Ummar, held since Oct. 30.

Other bodies were returned to their families for burial throughout the rest of the West Bank, including Muhammad Turkman, 25, from Qabatiya in Jenin whose body has been held since Oct. 31; Muhammad Jihad Hussein Harb, 17, from Qalqiliya, held since Dec. 8; Jihad Muhammad Said Khalil, 26, from Beit Wazan in Nablus, held since Nov. 22; and Wael Abu Saleh from Tulkarem, held since June 20.

The body of Turkman, a Palestinian policeman who was killed by Israeli forces in October after committing a shooting attack near the Ramallah-area illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, was released by Israeli authorities at the Israeli Dutan checkpoint to the west of Jenin in the northern West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces released the body of Abu Saleh at the Israeli Jabara checkpoint south of Tulkarem. Abu Saleh was shot dead by Israeli forces on June 30 after carrying out a stab attack in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya that left two Israelis wounded.

Medical sources confirmed to Ma’an that Abu Saleh’s body arrived at the governmental hospital in Tulkarem in a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance, noting that medical personnel conducted checkups on the body.

Abu Salah’s family told Ma’an that they would bury their slain son at a cemetery in the Shweikeh district of Tulkarem after Maghrib (evening) prayers.

Locals told Ma’an that all the necessary procedures were carried out in order to hold a proper funeral for Abu Saleh with the participation of members from several Palestinian political parties.
Meanwhile, in Qalqilya, the body of Harb, who was killed by Israeli forces on Dec. 8 for allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack on Israeli soldiers at the Zaatara checkpoint in Nablus, was delivered at the Israeli Eliyahu checkpoint and taken to his family’s home for final farewells, before a funeral procession took off for the slain teenager.

The funeral procession headed to the al-Shuhada Cemetery - Martyrs Cemetery -- in Qalqiliya where he was laid to rest.

In Nablus, Israeli authorities delivered the body of slain 26-year-old Khalil at the Israeli Jit checkpoint. His family announced that his funeral would be held on Saturday. Khalil was shot to death by Israeli forces on Nov. 22 after allegedly attempting to stab Israeli soldiers stationed at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Responding to petitions filed by the family members of a number of slain Palestinians, Israeli authorities released the bodies of seven last week.

The Israeli public prosecutor said at the time that the cases of the bodies of Muhammad Tarayra, Muhammad al-Faqih, and Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour needed “to be studied further,” due to the fact that they were affiliated with Hamas.

The state requested an additional 60 days at the time to prepare its position regarding the three bodies, however, at least with the case of Abu Srour, the Israeli Supreme Court denied the extension and set the deadline for Jan. 10, 2017 to decide whether or not to release the body, which has been held in an Israeli morgue for nearly eight months.
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.
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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