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Israel returns bodies of 2 slain Palestinians to families in Hebron

Jan. 6, 2017 7:37 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2017 8:12 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities returned the bodies of two slain Palestinians, Muhammad al-Rajabi and Hatim Shaludi, to their families on Friday evening.

The bodies were taken to the al-Ahli hospital in Hebron, where their families and families of other slain Palestinians were waiting.

A doctor for the Palestinian public prosecution was expected to conduct a medical check on the bodies and to prepare a legal file based on the findings. Palestinian doctors have been conducting medical checkups on the Palestinian bodies returned by Israel in order to document crimes committed by Israeli forces and to possibly make a larger case of war crimes committed by the Israeli state.

Head of the Palestinian prosecution Alaa al-Tamimi said last month that the prosecution had opened up investigations around the deaths of all Palestinian bodies returned by the Israeli state, including those who have died inside Israeli prisons.

Muhammad al-Rajabi,15, was shot to death by Israeli soldiers on Sept. 16 after he stabbed and lightly injured an Israeli soldier near the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City.

Hatim Shaludi, 25, was also shot dead in the Tel Rumeida area on Sept. 17 after an alleged attempted stabbing attack, less than 24 hours after al-Rajabi's killing.

The two are among at least nine slain Palestinians whose bodies are currently held by Israeli authorities for between eight and three months.

Meanwhile, the security cabinet of the Israeli government decided Sunday that it would not return the bodies of slain Palestinians affiliated with the Hamas movement who were killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis to their families -- a decision which would affect three bodies currently being held.

Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces amid unrest that erupted 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.

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."

PLO official Saeb Erekat has also urged the international community to pressure Israel to release Palestinian bodies held by Israel, saying: "Israel's collective punishments are now being carried out against the living and the dead."
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