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Thousands attend Hebron funerals after Israel returns 5 bodies

Oct. 31, 2015 1:34 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 31, 2015 5:43 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Thousands of Palestinian mourners on Saturday filled the streets of Hebron for the joint funeral of five Palestinians killed by Israeli forces after alleged and actual attacks in the occupied West Bank city this month.

The bodies of Dania Irsheid al-Husseini, 17, Bayan Ayman al-Essili, 16, Tariq Ziyad al-Natsha,16, Hussam Ismail al-Jabari,17, and Bashar Nidal al-Jabari,15, were handed over by Israel Friday night.

All were involved in attacks that the Israeli army said resulted in injury of Israeli military personnel excluding Dania, who eyewitnesses said did not attempt an attack.

The funeral procession left from al-Hussein Ibn Ali Mosque in Ein Saraha neighborhood after funeral prayers.

Participants waved Palestinian flags and shouted slogans urging Palestinian factions to unite in order to carry out reprisal attacks against the Israeli military and settlers.

The father of 17-year-old Dania Irsheid al-Husseini collapsed during the funeral, locals said.

Several Palestinian Authority officials attended the funeral including Hebron governor Kamil Hmeid, chairman of the PA Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, Walid Assaf , and Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative party, Mustafa Barghouthi.

According to Israeli media, the Israeli military issued a warning to security personnel beforehand to “ expect violent clashes after the conclusion of services.”

Withholding bodies

Around twenty Palestinians have been killed in the Hebron district this month, the majority of whom were shot dead during alleged, attempted, or actual attacks on Israeli military.

Video footage and eyewitness accounts of some of the incidents raised serious concerns over the deliberate use of lethal force by Israeli forces against Palestinians who did not pose any threat at the time of their death.

The accusations carry extra weight in the flashpoint city of Hebron, where Israeli settlers often work in tandem with Israeli forces to push local Palestinians out, rights groups say.

This month, Israel has held the majority of bodies of Palestinians killed during attacks across occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, according to Israeli media.

Israel's security cabinet decided on Oct. 13 that the bodies of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces after carrying out attacks on Israelis would no longer be returned to their families.

The decision -- one among a series of stringent security measures -- was reportedly taken in order to stem protests that frequently accompany the funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

Palestinians across Hebron protested Tuesday in a “rally of anger” against Israel's decision to withhold the bodies of 11 Palestinians shot dead at that point in the area by Israeli forces since Oct. 1.

The five in Saturday's funeral, as well as a Palestinian from al-Eizariya, were returned after Israel's security cabinet considered keeping the bodies “a burden and not an asset,” Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Israel has in the past held the bodies of Palestinians involved in attacks, burying them in undisclosed locations and using them later as bargaining chips in negotiations.


The fathers of Dania Irsheid al-Husseini, 17, Bayan Ayman al-Essili, 16, sit next to their daughters' dead bodies on Oct. 31, 2015. (MaanImages)

The fathers of Dania Irsheid al-Husseini, 17, Bayan Ayman al-Essili, 16, sit next to their daughters' dead bodies on Oct. 31, 2015. (MaanImages)

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