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Israeli authorities release the bodies of 2 slain Palestinians

Dec. 30, 2016 9:50 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 31, 2016 4:48 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities Friday released the bodies of two slain Palestinians from the occupied West Bank who were shot to death by Israeli forces after the two committed and allegedly attempted to commit stabbing attacks against Israeli soldiers.

The bodies of Maen Nasser al-Din Abu Qaraa, 23, from the village of al-Mazraa al-Qibliyaa in the Ramallah district, and Hamad Khader al-Sheikh, 21, from the village of Beit Surik in the district of Jerusalem, were held by the Israeli state for 57 and 17 days, respectively.

Israeli forces delivered the bodies at the al-Jib checkpoint northwest of Jerusalem after originally informing the families that they would deliver the bodies near Israel’s Ofer detention center in western Ramallah and at the Rafat checkpoint in northern Jerusalem.

Palestinian ambulances transferred the slain bodies to the Ramallah Governmental Hospital to conduct medicals tests in order for Palestinian doctors to document their cases, which could be used in a potential appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel for possible war crimes.

The Palestinian prosecution released a statement after the release of the bodies pointing out that the prosecution’s deputy Samer al-Masri and a number of Palestinian doctors had conducted medical tests to investigate the circumstances of Abu Qaraa and al-Sheikh’s deaths to document crimes committed against them by Israeli forces.

Head of the prosecution Alaa al-Tamimi added that the prosecution has opened up investigations around the deaths of all the Palestinian bodies returned by the Israeli state, including those who have died inside Israeli prisons.

Abu Qaraa was killed by Israeli forces on Nov. 3 near the entrance of the illegal Israeli Ofra settlement after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an at the time that a Palestinian "armed with a knife attempted to stab an Israeli soldier guarding a bus stop" near Ofra, and that she was not aware of any Israelis being injured in the case.

Israeli forces reportedly prevented Palestinian medics from approaching the scene, eyewitnesses said, adding that Israeli medical teams did not treat him, leaving him to bleed to death.

Meanwhile, Al-Sheikh was killed after carrying out a stabbing attack in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Dec. 14, injuring one Israeli soldier.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said at the time that a suspect approached a group of Israeli police forces deployed near the Austrian Hospice hospital in the Old City, took out a screwdriver and stabbed one of the officers in the head, lightly injuring him.

Witnesses at the time said al-Sheikh was left on the ground bleeding for 20 minutes, adding that a Palestinian doctor arrived on the scene but was pushed away by Israeli forces before they finally let him administer first aid to the wounded Palestinian until Israeli ambulances arrived at the scene.
The release of the bodies of Qaraa and al-Sheikh was the latest round of returns of Palestinian bodies by Israeli authorities, with nine Palestinian bodies being released last week and seven released the week prior.

A joint statement released by prisoners rights group 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."

Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces amid unrest that erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October last year, 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 Israeli authorities have continued to hold nine Palestinian bodies for between eight and three months.
The nine slain Palestinians still being held by the Israeli state include:

Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour from Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, who died while carrying out a bomb attack on a bus in Jerusalem on April 18, which left 21 injured. The Israeli Supreme Court had rejected a request filed by the Israeli prosecution to delay making a decision over whether to release Abu Srour’s body. The Israeli government had already agreed back in June to release Abu Srour’s body to his family to be buried.

Majd al-Khadour, 18, from the village of Bani Naim in Hebron, was shot to death by Israeli forces on June 24 after allegedly carrying out a car-ramming attack that lightly injured two Israelis.

Muhammad Tarayra, 17, also from Bani Naim, was killed after carrying out a stabbing attack in the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba in Hebron that killed a 13-year-old Israeli girl, Hallel Yafa Ariel. Israeli daily Haaretz reported earlier in the month that Tarayra was among the Palestinians considered “terrorists affiliated with the Hamas group in Gaza,” and Israeli authorities had appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court for more time to decide on whether or not to return him.

Muhammad al-Faqih, from the village of Dura in Hebron, was killed by Israeli forces after fortifying himself in a house in Hebron’s Surif village several weeks after allegedly carrying out a shooting attack on a settler family’s vehicle, killing the father, and leaving the wife and two children injured. At the time of his death, Israeli forces fired anti-tank missiles at the house and demolished it before al-Faqih was killed. Like Tarayra, al-Faqih was also among the Palestinians considered “terrorists” affiliated with Hamas by Israeli authorities.

Rami Muhammad Zaim Awartani, 31, from the village of Awarta in Nablus, was killed by Israeli forces after attempting to carry out a stabbing attack on Israeli soldiers stationed at the Huwwara checkpoint on July 31.

Muhammad al-Rajabi,15, from Hebron city, killed on Sept. 16, was shot to death by Israeli soldiers after stabbing and lightly injuring an Israeli soldier near the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City.

Hatim Shaludi, 25, also from Hebron city, was also shot dead in the Tel Rumeida area on Sept. 17 after an alleged attempted stabbing attack, less than 24 hours after the killing of al-Rajabi.

Misbah Abu Sbeih, 39, from the neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, was shot and killed by Israeli police on Oct. 9 after carrying out a drive-by shooting in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which left an Israeli police officer and Israeli woman dead, and at least five others injured.

Muhammad Salam (also reported as Muhammad Nabil Zeidan), 15, from the Shufat refugee camp in the Jerusalem district of the West Bank, was killed by an Israeli security guard on Nov. 25 near the camp after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack on a group of Israeli security officers.

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