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Palestinians stage sit-in in Nablus calling for return of hundreds of bodies held by Israel

Jan. 11, 2017 8:44 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 12, 2017 10:43 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Palestinian committees organized a sit-in with Palestinian families and local institutions in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday to demand the release of the bodies of Palestinians currently withheld by Israel.

The mother of Darin Abu Eisha told Ma’an that her daughter was killed on Nov. 27, 2002, after allegedly conducting an attack, and that Israel was still holding her body to this day.

Coordinating Committee of Political Factions member Nasser Abu Jaish told Ma’an that it was a human right to allow families to give their relatives a proper burial, and that obtaining the return of the bodies was a national duty.

Abu Jaish added that Israel was still holding the bodies of 249 slain Palestinians, including some who have been held since the 1960s, adding that 52 of those withheld were from the Nablus district.

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 among Palestinians over the policy, Israeli authorities began scaling down the practice, although the bodies of a large number of Palestinians killed over the years still remain withheld.

When Israeli authorities have decided to return slain bodies and allow funerals in the occupied Palestinian territory in the past year, 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.

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."

Israel has long had “cemeteries for the enemy dead,” also referred to as “cemeteries of numbers,” where Palestinians who died during attacks on Israelis are held in nameless graves marked by numbers.

Around 262 bodies were believed to be held by Israel as of mid-2015.

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