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Israel returns body of young Palestinian attacker, funeral held in Qalqiliya

May 21, 2016 1:58 P.M. (Updated: June 21, 2016 12:46 P.M.)
QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- A funeral was held Friday night in the village of Hajja east of the occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya for a young Palestinian man killed by Israeli forces following a stabbing attack in March, after Israeli authorities returned his body that had been held for over 70 days.

The body of Bashar Masalha, 22, was laid to rest in his village after Israeli forces returned his body almost three months following his death under the condition that the funeral be held at night.

Before he was buried, his body was taken to the Darwish Nazzal hospital, where a forensic doctor inspected the body.

Israeli forces shot dead Masalha after he carried out a stabbing attack in March near the port of the Israeli city of Jaffa, killing a US tourist and wounding at least nine Israelis.

Following the attack, Masalha’s village of Hajja was completely sealed by military forces, as Israeli forces took measurements to punitively demolished his family’s home.

Israel dramatically increased its policy of holding bodies of Palestinians killed while allegedly carrying out attacks or attempting to carry out attacks when unrest increased in October, but began reversing the policy following uproar from Palestinian families and communities.

Earlier this month, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the bodies of nine Palestinians be returned to their families before the Muslim holiday of Ramadan in June.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat urged the international community in March to pressure Israel to release the bodies of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces while allegedly carrying out attacks.

He said: "Israel's collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead."

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."

Masalha was among more than 200 Palestinians who have been killed since October, the majority of whom were shot during alleged attacks or attempted attacks on Israeli military targets. Nearly 30 Israelis have been killed during the same time period.
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