Thousands attend funeral as the bodies of two Palestinians are returned from Israel

Published November 1st, 2015 - 12:30 GMT

Thousands of mourners on Sunday filled the streets of Sair and Surif villages in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron for the funerals of two young men who were killed by Israeli forces in October, following alleged stabbing attempts.

Israeli authorities delivered the bodies of Raed Jaradat, 22, and Mahmoud Ghneimat, 20, to the Palestinian liaison department early Sunday morning. The remains were then transferred to the Hebron public hospital before they were taken to their hometowns.

Jaradat, from the village of Sair east of Hebron, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on Oct. 26, after Israelis sources said he stabbed and injured a 19-year-old Israeli soldier in the neck. Similarly, Ghneimat, from the village of Surif west of Hebron, was shot dead on Oct. 22 after Israeli sources said he had attempted a stabbing attack, however the circumstances around the incident are unclear.

Jaradat was shot in the face during the incident, making it difficult to identify the body, the family said. Family members of Jaradat told Ma'an it took the family two hours to identify the body as their relative for certain.

Both men received a full military procession out of the hospital before they were taken to their hometowns. 

Jaradat and Ghneimat's remains were two of the seven bodies expected to be returned to families in Hebron on Sunday. 

Israeli authorities on Saturday had agreed to release the bodies of at least seven Palestinians being held by Israeli authorities following a joint funeral of five others whose bodies Israel had released on Friday. However, Palestinian sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces retracted their latest decision to release all seven bodies, and instead only released the two.

On Friday Israeli forces returned the bodies of Dania Irsheid al-Husseini, 17, Bayan Ayman al-Essili, 16, Tariq Ziyad al-Natsha,16, Hussam Ismail al-Jabari,17, and Bashar Nidal al-Jabari,15.

All were involved in attacks that the Israeli army said resulted in injury of Israeli military personnel excluding Dania, who eyewitnesses said did not attempt an attack.

Withholding bodies

Around twenty Palestinians have been killed in the Hebron district since the beginning of October, the majority of whom were shot dead during alleged, attempted, or actual attacks on Israeli military.

Video footage and eyewitness accounts of some of the incidents raised serious concerns over the deliberate use of lethal force by Israeli forces against Palestinians who did not pose any threat at the time of their death.

The accusations carry extra weight in the flashpoint city of Hebron, where Israeli settlers often work in tandem with Israeli forces to push local Palestinians out, rights groups say.

Since the start of October, Israel has held the majority of bodies of Palestinians killed during attacks across occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, according to Israeli media.

Israel's security cabinet decided on Oct. 13 that the bodies of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces after carrying out attacks on Israelis would no longer be returned to their families.

The decision -- one among a series of stringent security measures -- was reportedly taken in order to stem protests that frequently accompany the funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

Palestinians across Hebron protested Tuesday in a “rally of anger” against Israel's decision to withhold the bodies of 11 Palestinians shot dead at that point in the area by Israeli forces since Oct. 1.

The five in Saturday's funeral, as well as a Palestinian from al-Eizariya, were returned after Israel's security cabinet considered keeping the bodies “a burden and not an asset,” Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Israel has in the past held the bodies of Palestinians involved in attacks, burying them in undisclosed locations and using them later as bargaining chips in negotiations.

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