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Israel returns body of Jerusalem Palestinian after 124 days

Feb. 15, 2016 10:07 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 15, 2016 10:19 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authority handed over the body of a suspected Palestinian attacker on Sunday night, after having withheld the body of Ahmad Abu Shaaban for 124 days.

A resident of occupied East Jerusalem, 23-year-old Abu Shaaban reportedly attempted to board an Egged bus after stabbing a 70-year-old woman in the central bus station, when he was shot dead by Israeli border police on Oct. 15.

Abu Shaaban’s body was handed over at 2:00 a.m., when his family was allowed to see him for the last time.

Muhammad Abu Shaaban, Ahmad’s brother, told Ma’an that Abu Shaaban was shot more than 20 times in the head, back, and chest. He added that one of the bullets had shattered his skulls into small pieces.

Israeli authorities released the body on condition that Abu Shaaban’s funeral be attended by only 14 people escorted by armed Israeli special forces.

Abu Shaaban’s father said his family was “shocked when the Israeli army suddenly changed the conditions for the handover in terms of the time and the number of the people allowed at the funeral.”

The family’s lawyer, Muhammad Mahmoud, said Israeli authorities initially stipulated that only 50 people could attend the funeral, before changing it to 10.

The family had to negotiate to bring the number up to 14, and had to pay 20,000 shekels ($5,150) as collateral, Mahmoud added.

“Today we received Ahmad’s body, and we hope all the Palestinian families will receive their sons’ bodies,” Abu Shaaban’s father said.

“Ahmad was buried near the al-Aqsa mosque where he wanted to be buried,” his mother told Ma’an.

Funeral participants chanted slogans protesting Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

Israel in October decided to hold the bodies of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israeli military and civilians. Several have since been returned, and handovers of the bodies of Palestinians killed this month have been near-immediate.

Although the issue of withheld bodies has come back into the spotlight since the beginning of a wave of unrest in the West Bank, around 262 Palestinian bodies were believed to be held by Israel prior to October.

Israeli authorities are still withholding the bodies of nine Palestinian from Jerusalem, including Thaer Abu Ghazaleh since Sept. 8, and Musab al-Ghazali, since Oct. 26.

The practice has been denounced by Israeli human rights organization Hamoked as amounting to collective punishment for family members of the dead.

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