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The New Arab

Israel hands over 23 Palestinian bodies

The funeral of a Palestinian after his body was returned by Israel

Date of publication: 1 January, 2016

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Israel handed over 23 bodies of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army, and thousands attend their long-delayed funerals.
Israel has handed over the bodies of 23 Palestinians killed during recent attacks on Israelis.

"Today, in accordance with the instructions from the government, the army is planning to return the bodies of 23 Palestinian assailants who attacked Israeli civilians and members of security forces in the last months," a military spokeswoman told AFP this morning.

The father of one of the deceased Asraqt Qatani denied any previous knowledge that Israel would hand over the body of his daughter.

"We have not received any information from the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs concerning the hand-over of the body of my daughter Ashraqt," he told The New Arab.

"If the body will be delivered today as is reported by the media, there will be an autopsy before she is buried in accordance to legal requirements," he said. 

Funerals of five Palestinians killed by Israeli forces were attended by thousands in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Tulkarem, Jenin after Israel released their bodies. 

Among those received were the bodies of two brothers – Shadi and Fadi al-Khaseeb, who were finally buried in Beereh city cemetery outside Ramallah.

During the funerals flags of Palestine and political factions were brandished, and mourners reportedly chanted for revenge for the blood of the martyrs and demanded response to the crimes committed against them by the occupation.

Those attending the funerals asked for the rival political factions to contribute to the struggle and achieve national unity.

Most Palestinian corpses believed to be in Israel's possession are thought to have belonged to those killed by Israeli security forces in recent clashes between the army and Palestinian youths, which some have been dubbed a "third intifada".

Earlier this month the Council of Palestinian Human Rights accused Israel of deliberately withholding bodies of Palestinians in order to conceal exactly how they died.

Not only do Israelis withhold the bodies of martyrs from their families, but also reportedly deform the bodies while in their position, for example by freezing the body in unnatural fetal positions.

Families are in a hurry to bury their members and so do so as quickly as possible, without being able to perform full burial rites.

According to Islamic burial rites, bodies should be buried as soon as possible, before being washed and shrouded.

Some Palestinians have, without solid evidence, accused Israel of "harvesting" the organs of dead Palestinians - charges that Israel said are repetitions of centuries-old anti-Semitic "blood libel" lies.

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