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Israel to return bodies of 7 slain Palestinians from Hebron on Friday

Dec. 22, 2016 8:27 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 23, 2016 1:35 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities are set to return seven bodies of slain Palestinians from the occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Friday, a member of the Palestinian National Committee for Retrieving Bodies of Martyrs told Ma’an on Thursday.

While the identities of the seven Palestinians were not named, the committee was informed by the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid that Israel will continue to hold the body of 17-year-old Muhammad Tarayra who stabbed and killed 13-year-old Hillel Yaffe Ariel in her home last June, and Muhammad al-Faqih who was accused of carrying out a deadly shooting attack in July, as a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court to release them is still being decided.

Responding to petitions filed by the family members of a number of Palestinians slain while committing or allegedly committing attacks, Israeli authorities released the bodies of seven other slain Palestinians last week.

The Israeli public prosecutor said at the time that the matter regarding the bodies of Muhammad Tarayra, Muhammad al-Faqih, and Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour from Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem -- needed “to be studied further,” due to the fact that they were affiliated with Hamas

The state requested an additional 60 days at the time to prepare its position regarding the three bodies, however, at least with the case of Abu Srour, the Israeli Supreme Court denied the extension and set the deadline for Jan. 10, 2017 to decide whether or not to release the body, which has been held in an Israeli morgue for nearly eight months.

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

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

Palestinian families have also been forced to pay large financial deposits to the Israeli government as a collateral for potential “incitement” during the funerals and to ensure that families abide by Israeli-imposed conditions.

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."

The statement said it appeared "many" of the Palestinians whose bodies Israel was holding had been "extrajudicially executed by Israeli forces during alleged attacks against Israelis, despite posing no danger."

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