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Slain Palestinian's body to be returned after reports of army preconditions

July 11, 2017 2:37 P.M. (Updated: July 11, 2017 9:15 P.M.)
24-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Jibril,
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A day after Israeli forces shot dead a young Palestinian man near the village of Tuqu in the southern occupied West Bank for committing an alleged vehicular attack against Israeli soldiers, Israeli forces raided the slain man’s village early Tuesday morning and warned locals the body would only be returned if the town “remained quiet.”

By the afternoon, Israeli authorities decided to return the body, according to Tuqu Mayor Hatem Sabbah. He told Ma'an that the Palestinian liaison said that the body would be returned at 4 p.m. at the Husan checkpoint in western Bethlehem, and that the remains would be taken to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital.

The time of the funeral was not yet determined.

Muhammad Ibrahim Jibril, 24, was gunned down Monday at a junction near Tuqu, south of Bethlehem city, after he allegedly rammed his car into Israeli forces, lightly injuring one soldier, and then emerged from the vehicle wielding a knife, according to the Israeli army.

Thousands of people gathered Monday night at Tuqu's secondary school for girls in mourning and demanded that Jibril’s body be returned for proper burial.

Muhammad Jibril's brother Walid told Ma’an that in the wake of the killing, he was summoned by Israeli forces to the Gush Etzion military base south of Bethlehem and questioned for several hours. He said that the Israeli intelligence officers showed him a photo of his brother to confirm his identity.

Israeli intelligence informed Walid that Jibril's body would be returned in the coming two days, but only if there was “quiet -- on a security level” in the area.

Israeli authorities have claimed funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces following alleged attacks had provided grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state, though the practice of withholding their bodies has been widely deplored as a form of collective punishment.

Tuqu Mayor Hatem Sabbah told Ma'an he accompanied the Jibril family to the military base to identify the body, and corroborated that Israeli intelligence had notified them that the body would only be returned on the condition that calmness prevail in the mourning village.

"This is yet another crime added to the list of crimes committed by the Israeli occupation," Sabbah said. “This Israeli military tower,” he said, referring to the tower that presides over the main entrance to Tuqu, “has become a spot for executing young men."

Sabbah called for the watchtower to be removed.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were unaware of preconditions being conveyed to the Jibril family for the release of their son's body.

However, the Israeli army said in a statement that in the wake of the alleged attack, Israeli forces raided Tuqu, searched the Jibril house, and found “incitement materials.”

While Israeli leaders often point to Palestinian “incitement” as the cause for alleged and actual attacks on Israelis, and often attempt to connect them to the so-called “war on terror,” Palestinians have instead cited the daily frustrations and routine Israeli military violence imposed by Israel's half-century occupation of the Palestinian territory as main drivers for such incidents.

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