Israel returns bodies of slain Palestinians

Israel has been accused of delaying releasing the bodies as a form of ‘collective punishment’

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Israel has returned the bodies of three Palestinians killed carrying out attacks, their families said Tuesday, in the first such handover in east Jerusalem in three months of violence.

Ishak Badran and Ahmed Quneibi, both from Kafr Aqeb in east Jerusalem, were buried at noon, while the body of Mohammad Said was laid to rest in a separate ceremony nearby.

The three men were among dozens of Palestinian attackers carrying out stabbings, car rammings and shootings that have led to the death of 22 Israelis since October 1.

At the same time, 139 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks.

Israel had been holding the bodies of dozens of attackers, but in recent days has released all bar one from the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian rights group Addameer.

These were the first bodies of attackers from east Jerusalem, however, and security forces still have at least 11 others of Palestinians from the area, three of them under 18, according to Addameer.

At Tuesday’s joint funeral, the mosque in Kafr Aqeb was packed with hundreds of mourners.

After the funeral Palestinian flags and those of the Islamist Hamas movement were waved.

Ahmad Quneibi was killed “on October 30th and was handed over early this morning at 1:00 am,” his father Hamada Quneibi told AFP.

The family said they paid 5,000 Israeli shekels ($1,270, 1180 euros) for the body as a deposit, on the condition it would be returned if the funeral passed off peacefully.

Rafat Sub Leban, advocacy coordinator at Addameer, called on Israel to release the rest of the bodies, labelling it a “form of collective punishment”.