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Palestinian laid to rest in West Bank as Israel returns body after 5 months

Feb. 17, 2018 2:56 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 21, 2018 3:10 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The family of Nimr al-Jamal, 37, finally laid him to rest on Saturday, after Israeli authorities had been holding his body for nearly five months.

Al-Jamal was killed on September 26th after he carried out a shooting attack in an illegal Israeli settlement that left two security guards and a border police officer dead.

His body was returned to his family on Friday night in the village of Beit Surik in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem. His family’s home had been punitively demolished by Israeli forces in November.

The funeral procession set off from the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah where al-Jamal’s body was wrapped in the Palestinian flag,.

He was then carried on shoulders towards his hometown where his family and hundreds of locals said their final goodbyes before burying him in the town's cemetery.

Al-Jamal was one of 84 Palestinians to have been killed by Israelis in 2017, according to Ma’an documentation.

Earlier this month the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) reported that the Israeli government was currently holding the bodies of 19 slain Palestinians killed in the past two years, along with 260 bodies of those killed since 1967.

Israel dramatically increased its policy of withholding bodies since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015, although it has scaled back on the policy in recent months.

Israel has long had “cemeteries for the enemy dead,” also referred to as “cemeteries of numbers,” where Palestinians who died during attacks on Israelis are held in nameless graves marked by numbers.

Israel has attempted to negotiate the release of Palestinian bodies as well as several Hamas affiliates detained from the Gaza Strip in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.

A joint statement released in 2016 by Addameer and the Israeli minority rights group Adalah 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."

During his interview with Voice of Palestine, Arouri said that “Israel was the only country in the world that withholds the bodies of slain people for bargaining purposes or sets conditions on funerals for releasing them to their families.”

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