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17-year-old slain Palestinian laid to rest near Tulkarem

Sept. 9, 2017 11:31 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 9, 2017 9:08 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Hundreds of Palestinians joined a funeral procession for 17-year-old Qutayba Ziad Zahran on Friday, 20 days after Israeli forces shot the minor to death for attempting a stabbing attack on soldiers at Israel’s Zaatara checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank.

Israeli authorities delivered Zahran’s body to Israel’s 104 checkpoint in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem earlier Friday morning, and was transferred to the Thabet Thabet Governmental hospital.

The body of another slain Palestinian, Raed al-Salhi from the al-Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem, was returned to the occupied territory at the same time. Thousands attended his funeral.

Zahran’s funeral started with vehicular procession from Thabit Thabit hospital to his hometown in Illar village northeast of Tulkarem. Palestinian security officers escorted the funeral until it reached the Shweika suburb in the city’s northern outskirts.

After the body arrived in Illar, it was taken to the Zahran's home for a final farewell. Mourners then carried the body to the village's boys school to perform the funeral prayer, before taking Zahran’s remains to the "Martyrs' Cemetery" in southern Illar, where he was laid to rest.

Mourners shouted slogans calling for retaliation against atrocities committed by Israeli forces.

According to Palestinian NGO al-Haq, witnesses confirmed at the time of Zahran's killing that Israeli soldiers continued to shoot the teenager even when he was incapacitated on the ground.

Witnesses also noted that they had been concerned for their own safety as Israeli soldiers often indiscriminately spray bullets around the scene of alleged or actual attacks, which has led to injuries in the past of innocent bystanders, al-Haq reported in a recent statement.

The day after the attempted attack, some 50 Israeli soldiers raided Zahran’s family home in the Illar village when his entire family was interrogated, including the children in the house, according to a testimony provided to al-Haq by Zahran’s father.
After interrogating the family members about Zahran and his social network, the soldiers detained Zahran’s brother Tariq, 30, and confiscated his phone, the father said. As of Sept. 7, when al-Haq’s statement was released, Tariq continued to be held in Israeli custody.

Like most Palestinian families whose relatives are injured or killed by Israeli forces, Zahran’s father said that neither Israeli nor Palestinian authorities officially notified the family of his son's death, and that they had heard through the local news and Facebook.

The family then had to contend with the reality of Israel’s widely condemned policy of withholding slain Palestinian bodies from their families. “(Israeli forces) withheld my son’s body; I did not know where it was being kept or when it would be handed over to me for burial,” Zahran’s father said.

Israel often delays the delivery of slain Palestinian bodies to their families in the occupied Palestinian territory, and imposes strict conditions on funerals, alleging that funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces leads to “incitement.”

Al-Haq said in the statement that Zahran’s killing, the raiding of his family’s home, and the withholding of his remains “fall within Israel’s broad policies and practices of harassment and collective punishment.”

“The holding of bodies violates prohibitions against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and has caused Palestinians to take extreme measures in order to ensure an immediate burial for their relatives and friends,” al-Haq added.

Shortly after Zahran was confirmed dead, a public Facebook post believed to be a will written by the teen was widely shared, in which he announced his intentions to carry out an attack. He also shared a photo depicting a “martyr's funeral,” with a body shrouded in a green cloth, presumably a Hamas flag, being carried by a crowd of gunmen wearing green headbands.

“How I long for a procession like this!,” text splashed across the image said.

After citing a quote from the Quran about fighting for God's cause, Zahran wrote:

Dear family members… I have good news for you.

My precious father, forgive me.

Here I have achieved my wish and I am about to die a martyr for the sake of God, armed with the determination of mujahidin (fighters). I have left this mortal world, rushing to the immortal life in paradise where I will meet God's chosen prophet, peace be upon him, alongside prophets, companions, and virtuous people. You should know, my family, that I haven't left you because I am fed up with you, or because you were bad to me, but only because martyrdom has called upon me after I have been wishing to obtain it for a while.

My precious mother, forgive me.

God's consent is dependent on your consent, and my wish won't be realized without this condition. My wish won't be complete unless you remain patient and sacrifice me for God's reward by considering me a martyr who died fighting for the sake of God, to make sure that God's word is the highest word, and to take revenge for the martyrs of Palestine. Don't cry over losing me, but rather utter trilling cries of joy because this is your martyr son's wedding.

My beloved brothers, forgive me.Be helpful to your mother and father and be patient and sacrifice me for God's reward. Be firm and support each other, and forgive me if I had ever erred against any of you. Continue to cling to God's religion and hold firmly to the rope of God.

My beloved sisters, forgive me.

Don't forget what I asked you a few days before I left for the sake of God. Stay by my mother's side and be sisters to Aisha and al-Khansaa.

Forgive me everybody. If I failed to be helpful enough in life in this world, I won't fail to be unhelpful to you on the day of judgment, God willing. The prophet promised that a martyr will intercede for the benefit of 70 of his family members.

My will:

My will for you, my family, is that nobody cries during my procession to paradise, but rather distribute dates and utter trilling cries of joy during my martyrdom wedding.

And finally, I will say: see you soon in a paradise, whose width is only equal to heaven and earth and has been prepared for God-fearing people.

Our last prayer is thanks be to God, the lord of the worlds.

Living martyr,

Qutayba Ziad Zahran

Zahran was among 55 Palestinians to be killed by Israelis since the start of the year. Since the beginning of 2017, 13 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians, almost all of whom were uniformed Israeli officers or Israeli settlers residing in Palestinian territory in violation of international law.

Rights groups have often accused Israel of carrying out a policy of “extrajudicial execution” on Palestinians allegedly or actually carrying out attacks on Israelis, noting that these Palestinians could have been subdued through nonlethal means.

Palestinians have cited the daily frustrations and regular Israeli military violence imposed by Israel's nearly half century occupation of the Palestinian territory as main drivers for Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
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