Israel releases bodies of 7 Palestinians from Ramallah
Israel released the bodies of seven Palestinians on Thursday who had been shot dead during alleged attacks on soldiers.
The bodies were released on Thursday evening to family members at the Ofer checkpoint west of Ramallah in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Civil Defense body has named the dead as Suleiman Shahin, Ghassan Hammad, Issa Assaf, Wissam Abu Ghweileh, brothers Fadi and Shadi al-Khasib and Ahmad Taha.
Israeli authorities had announced on Thursday morning that 11 bodies would be released, but decided to delay the release of four over “security reasons”.
Furious family members, who had been waiting for hours to receive their sons’ bodies, decried the Israeli decision.
“We were told that they will release the body of our son this morning, but a few minutes before the release the Israelis did this," a relative of Hekmat Hamdan, who was among the four, told MEE.
Before the release, Israel had set conditions including the demand that the dead be buried at night during small, not mass funerals.
However, Palestinian families had signed a petition which stated their refusal to comply, saying it would break tradition and prevent many family members from saying goodbye to their loved ones.
“We should be proud of our martyrs and make the huge funerals which they deserve. Israel knows that those funerals increase the popular mobilisation and this is why they held the bodies of our sons”, a relative of Shadi and Fadi Khasib told MEE.
The Al-Haq human rights foundation has reported that Israel is holding the bodies of 77 out of the 144 Palestinians killed since a wave of attacks began in October. Of this figure, 85 were killed following alleged stabbing and car ramming attacks.
Shawan Jabarin, director of Al-Haq said that: “There are no ‘security reasons’. This is a policy to put pressure on the families of the martyrs”.
“The Israelis know the value of the martyr. The conditions also aim at concealing evidence of illegal shooting distances and killing methods”.
He said that one body has been held by the authorities since 1967, alleging that Israel also provides some to medical centres to conduct research.
“They deny the existence of the bodies they have, but we still consider them missing martyrs”, he added.
The Israeli authorities announced that the bodies of 17 Palestinian martyrs from Hebron city will be released this evening.
In the past three months, 143 Palestinians have been killed, including 27 children and seven women, according to the Palestinian ministry of health.