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Israeli forces suppress Palestinian funeral with live ammunition, tear gas

Dec. 24, 2016 2:57 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 25, 2016 12:49 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Palestinians in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron laid five Palestinians to rest on Saturday after their bodies were released by Israeli authorities the previous night, with mourners being met with live ammunition, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli forces.

After Israeli authorities returned the bodies of nine Palestinians who were killed while committing or allegedly committing attacks, a number of funerals were held Friday evening across the occupied West Bank.

In Hebron, preparations for the funerals of five Palestinians were still ongoing as of Saturday morning, and were held later in the afternoon.

In Beit Ummar, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad said Israeli soldiers stationed at the northern entrance to the town fired tear gas canisters at the crowds of mourners during the funeral for Khalid Ikhlayyil.

The cemetery, he said, is only tens of meters away from the Israeli military post.

In response, Palestinians youth hurled stones at the Israeli soldiers who fired more tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets injuring a number of people. According to Awad, 11 Palestinians were hit with live ammunition and 10 others with rubber-coated steel bullets. He added that three Israeli soldiers were also hurt.

Ambulances of the Palestinian Red Crescent Service evacuated the injured and treated several others on the scene.

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Awad highlighted that "the entire town of Beit Ummar -- without exception" partook in Ikhlayyil’s funeral.

The body, he said, was first carried to the town's main mosque for a funeral prayer after mourners performed the midday prayer, then headed to the Martyr’s Cemetery where he was led to rest.

Khalid Ahmad Elayyan Ikhlayyil, 23, was shot dead inside his private car in the al-Baqaa area in Beit Ummar on Oct. 30. Israeli forces alleged that he tried to run over a number of Israeli soldiers.

Separately, crowds took to the streets in Hebron to partake in the funeral Ameer Jamal al-Rajabi, 17, and Muhannad Jameel al-Rajabi , 21, were shot by Israeli soldiers on Sep. 19 after they allegedly attempted to stab Israeli officers in the Old City of Hebron.

The two were taken to the Abu Eisha mosque and after the midday prayer and funeral prayer, mourners carried the bodies to the Martyr’s Cemetery.

In Bani Naim east of Hebron, Issa Salim Tarayra was led to rest at the town's Martyr’s Cemetery. Locals said large numbers of mourners carried Tarayra's body from his family home to the front yard of Bani Naim Girls School where they performed funeral prayers before he was buried.

Issa Salim Mahmoud Tarayra, 16, was shot dead by Israeli troops near the entrance to his hometown Bani Naim on Sep. 20. Israeli forces had claimed that he attempted to stab Israeli soldier.

Mustafa Baradiya, originally from the Hebron area town of Surif, was buried in al-Arrub refugee camp where he lived before he was shot to death by Israeli troops on July 18, 216 after he stabbed and injured two Israeli soldiers on the main road near al-Arrub refugee camp.

His brother, 50-year-old Ibrahim Baradiya, was shot and killed by Israeli forces at the entrance of al-Arrub refugee camp on April 14 after allegedly attempting to attack a soldier with an ax.

Locals said that four slain Palestinians from the Hebron area -- identified as Muhammad al-Faqih, Muhammad Tarayra, Muhammad al-Rajabi, and Hatim Shaloudi -- were still being held by Israeli authorities.

The Israeli state had posthumously accused Tarayra, al-Faqih, as well as Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour from Bethlehem of being affiliated with Hamas, and requested the Supreme Court for more time to decide on whether or not to return them.

However, Muhammad al-Rajabi and Hatim Shaludi were reportedly among the slain Palestinians that Israeli agreed to release for burial.

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.

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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