Israeli authorities return Palestinian bodies withheld for two months

Israeli authorities return Palestinian bodies withheld for two months
Israel has for decades practiced a policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians who have died under its watch.
2 min read
25 March, 2023
Karam Ali Salam was aged just 18 when he was killed by an Israeli settler in January [Getty]

Israeli authorities on Friday handed over the bodies of two Palestinian men who were killed in separate attacks in the occupied West Bank in January.

The bodies of Tariq Yousef Maali and Karam Ali Salman were received by local authorities in their respective hometowns of Kafr Nima, west of Ramallah, and Qusin, south of Nablus, according to the Palestinian Public Authority for Civil Affairs.

Maali, a married father of three, was shot and killed by an Israeli settler during an attack on 21 January in Jabal Raisan, while 18-year-old Salman was killed near the illegal settlement of Kedumim, east of Qalqilya on 29 January.

Salman’s body was transferred by ambulance to Nablus’ Rafidia Hospital before it was examined and approved for burial.

Later on Friday, thousands of mourners gathered in Qusin for Salman’s funeral procession. The Palestinian teenager’s body was also taken to his home, where family members bid one last farewell before he was buried, the head of Qusin Village Council Nael Salman told The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The funeral procession included chants denouncing the Israeli occupation and its crimes against Palestinians.

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Maali's funeral will take place on Saturday, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

A third body will be handed over on Sunday, according to the Palestinian Public Authority. Ahmed Abu Ali, a 48-year-old man from Yatta in the southern West Bank, died in an Israeli hospital on 10 February. Abu Ali was serving time at an Israeli jail prior to his death.

Israel has practiced a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies for decades but has increased its use since 2015, according to rights groups.

The National Campaign to Recover the Bodies of the Martyrs previously said that Israel had been withholding the bodies of 116 Palestinians as of December 2020, including a number of prisoners.

There are also at least 250 Palestinian bodies buried in so-called special Israeli cemeteries. Palestinians call them "the numbers graveyards", as gravestones bear numbers instead of the deceased’s names. Each number has a "special" file kept by Israeli authorities.