ISRAEL TO RETURN BODY OF PALESTINIAN WITHHELD SINCE OCTOBER

JERUSALEM, — Israeli authorities will reportedly return the body of a Palestinian which had been withheld for nearly 10 months in the coming days, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Monday.

Muhammad Mahmoud, a lawyer for committee, said that Israeli intelligence had agreed to return the body of Bahaa Elayyan to his family, pending a number of preconditions.

Israeli authorities agreed to release Elayyan’s body if no more than 30 people attended his funeral — an increase from its initial stipulation that only 20 people attend — and mandating that it take place at the Lion’s Gate cemetery in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.

In June, Israeli police decided that slain Palestinians from East Jerusalem accused of “terrorism” would no longer have funerals in their neighborhoods or villages, but would instead be buried in cemeteries chosen by the police.

Elayyan’s family was also made to pay a security deposit of 20,000 shekels ($5,218).

Mahmoud added that an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court over Palestinian bodies held by Israel would remain ongoing until the last body was returned.

Elayyan, 22, was killed on Oct. 13 after carrying out a stabbing and shooting attack on a bus in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, killing three Israelis.

The bodies of at least seven Palestinians are still being held by Israel, with Elayyan’s father Muhammad Elayyan spearheading the movement of slain Palestinians’ families demanding their release.

Muhammad Elayyan was detained by Israeli forces for several days in June over his involvement in protests.

Israel dramatically increased its policy of withholding bodies since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory since October in which nearly 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis.

Human rights organizations have also widely condemned the policy, with prisoners’ rights group Addameer calling it a form of collective punishment against Palestinians who had not been accused of any wrongdoing, also noting that it adds to the severe grief and trauma of families of the deceased.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities prevented the families of 12 Palestinian prisoners from entering to visit their incarcerated relatives held at the Beersheba prison complex in Israel’s Negev region, according to Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

Israeli forces also ripped the visitation permits of some of the Palestinian families at the Israeli checkpoints, the committee said in their statement.

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has repeatedly denied family visitation for scores of Palestinian prisoners held in in prisons across the state of Israel, and some families have reported being held at Israeli checkpoints and forced to return to their homes in the occupied territory, despite being granted visitation permits.

The committee has said such actions were part of a broader system of punitive measures imposed on Palestinian prisoners and their families, in what they said amounted to collective punishment on innocent civilians.

They also urged the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is responsible for arranging most family visits for Palestinian prisoners, to intervene and stop acts that violate humanitarian laws and the rights of the prisoners.

The incidents came amid widespread protest over the ICRC’s recent cuts to family visitations, reducing arranged visits for male Palestinian prisoners from two days a month to just one.

Since families of Palestinian prisoners often experience rejection or long-term delays of their permit applications to visit prisons in Israel, including incidents at checkpoints that prevent them from crossing even after they have been issued permits, Palestinians are heavily reliant on ICRC-arranged visitations as ICRC buses transport Palestinians to and from the prisons and act as an institutional medium between the families and Israeli authorities.

Source: Name News Network

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