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Joint funeral held in Hebron for 2 Palestinians after bodies released by Israel

Jan. 7, 2017 4:33 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2017 8:27 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Palestinian mourners attended a joint funeral for two slain Palestinians from Hebron city on Saturday, after their bodies were returned by Israeli authorities the previous night.

The bodies of 15-year-old Muhammad al-Rajabi and 25-year-old Hatim Shaludi were held for almost four months by the Israeli state.

Participants in the funeral procession carried the two from Hebron’s al-Ahli hospital to their family homes for final goodbyes, and proceeded to march in the streets of Hebron’s Old City.

Dozens chanted slogans condemning the almost 50-year Israeli military occupation and its ongoing violation of human rights and international law, before they arrived at the Abu Eisha Mosque for funeral prayers.

Following funeral prayers, the procession made its way to the “Martyrs cemetery” -- where Palestinians killed by Israeli forces are buried -- in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Hariya, where the two were finally laid to rest.
Muhammad al-Rajabi,15, was shot to death by Israeli soldiers on Sept. 16 after he stabbed and lightly injured an Israeli soldier near the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City.

Hatim Shaludi, 25, 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.

A member of the Palestinian national campaign to restore the bodies of martyrs, Amin al-Bayid, said during the funeral that Israel has continued to hold the bodies of at least seven Palestinian who had been shot dead by Israeli forces since a wave of violence first erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015.
He identified the seven slain Palestinians still being held by the Israeli state as the following:

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 Salam (whose identity has also been 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.

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.

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.

Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour from Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, 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 last month 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.

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 last month that Tarayra was among the Palestinians considered “terrorists affiliated with the Hamas group in Gaza,” whose bodies the Israeli government decided on Sunday would not be returned to their families.

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.
Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces after the eruption of violence in 2015, having repeatedly claimed that funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state.

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."

PLO official Saeb Erekat has also urged the international community to pressure Israel to release Palestinian bodies held by Israel, saying: "Israel's collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead."

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