Israeli-Palestinian battle doesn’t end at death – AFP/Reuters (double article)
Nablus (Palestinian Territories) – After weeks of waiting for the funeral, Bassim Salah’s family still couldn’t bury his body when it was returned by the Israeli authorities too frozen and contorted to fit in the grave.
The 38-year-old Palestinian was killed in November while trying to stab an Israeli border guard near an entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, according to the police.
His body, like those of dozens of other Palestinians since a wave of attacks began in October, is the subject of a macabre dispute between the Israeli authorities and families seeking to grieve.
His brother Saad flicks through disturbing images of the corpse, after it was handed over by the Israelis to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Before they could lay him to rest, his family in the West Bank city of Nablus was forced to watch the body slowly thaw after its return from storage in a freezer in an Israeli morgue.
“We only wanted the body to bury him in an honourable way,” Saad said.
According to Islamic tradition, burial should take place as soon as possible after death.
The Israeli government announced on October 14 that it would not return the bodies of assailants as part of a range of measures designed to curb the spate of attacks.
Many funerals have been delayed, sometimes for more than three months.
- ‘No respect’ –
A total of 156 Palestinians and 24 Israelis have been killed in three months of violence. Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out attacks.
At the height of confiscations, Israel held 56 bodies, according to the Palestinians.
But the majority have been released in recent weeks, with only 10 still being held.
Mazen Hassan Arabeh, 37, was killed on December 3 while carrying out an attack at a checkpoint, according to the Israeli authorities.
The director of Abu Dis Medical Centre said it took 20 people to carry the body when it was returned because it was “completely frozen”.
“It seems that they are tossing them in the refrigerator after their deaths without any regard for their shape,” Abdullah Abu Hilal said.
“The occupation does not respect them even when they put their bodies in a fridge.”
Rights groups have criticised the policy of withholding bodies, saying it increases tensions. And much of the Israeli establishment agrees.
The issue has divided the Israeli military — which supports returning the bodies — and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who wants to avoid funerals becoming political rallies.
The army has returned all the bodies from the West Bank, for which it is responsible.
But those from annexed east Jerusalem, under Erdan’s ministry, have been withheld.
“Until now, the bodies were held as every funeral turned into disruptions of order and a show of support for terror,” said a spokesman for Erdan.
However, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has argued for their return to ease tensions, according to Israeli media reports.
“Past experience has taught us that holding bodies brings more harm than benefit,” an Israeli official told AFP.
- ‘Collective punishment’ –
Numerous marches have been organised in Palestinian communities to demand the return of the bodies.
When it does hand them over, Israel imposes conditions such as that funerals take place at night.
Families are also sometimes made to pay a deposit of several thousand shekels (hundreds of dollars) which is forfeited if the funeral does not pass quietly.
In east Jerusalem, Mohammed Alyan is still waiting for his son’s body.
On October 13, Bahaa Alyan boarded a bus in Jerusalem with a friend, Bilal Ghanem, shooting and stabbing passengers and killing three people. Ghanem was arrested and Alyan was killed.
His father called the retention of the bodies a “type of collective punishment and torture, especially for those from Jerusalem”.
Israel also destroyed the family home as punishment, but he swears he will not submit to Israeli conditions for the body’s return.
“We will not bury him at night or pay a guarantee, and we won’t bury him outside Jerusalem,” he said.
Israel: 13 Year-Old Palestinian Girl Shot Dead After Stabbing Attempt – Reuters/HuffPo
JERUSALEM, Jan 23 – A 13-year-old Palestinian girl was shot dead by an Israeli security guard she tried to stab at a settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israeli police said on Saturday.
It was the latest fatality in an almost four-month-long surge of violence that has raised concern of wider escalation, a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided, and it followed two stabbings this week inside settlements carried out by Palestinian teenagers, according to Israeli authorities.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said initial investigations showed the teenager “had fought with her family and left her home with a knife and intending to die.”
Holding a knife, she ran toward the security guard at the entrance to Anatot settlement and he opened fire at her, Samri said. Her father arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and was arrested, she added.
Eight seconds of security camera footage published on Israeli Channel Two News’s website showed the armed guard running through the settlement gate and a young woman running after him with an object, possibly a knife, in her hand.
The family of the teenager, Ruqayya Abu Eid, confirmed her death. Her mother, Reeda Abu Eid, said there had been no trouble before her daughter left the family home, a tent in the Palestinian village Anata.
“Her father works in a farm and Ruqayya used to go to him. I didn’t see her when she left so I expected she had gone to her father,” she said. “Ruqayya is a small girl, how could she stab someone?”
Since the start of October, Israeli forces have killed at least 149 Palestinians, 95 of them assailants according to authorities. Most of the others have died in violent protests. Almost daily stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians have killed 25 Israelis and a U.S. citizen.
Many of the Palestinian assailants have been teenagers.
On Sunday, an Israeli mother of six was stabbed to death at her home in a West Bank settlement and a 15-year-old Palestinian was arrested for the attack. On Monday, Israeli troops shot and wounded a 17-year-old Palestinian who had stabbed and wounded a pregnant Israeli woman in a settlement.
The bloodshed has been fueled by various factors including frustration over the 2014 collapse of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the growth of Jewish settlements on land Palestinians seek for an independent state.
Palestinian leaders have said that with no breakthrough on the horizon, desperate youngsters see no future ahead. Israel says young Palestinians are being incited to violence by their leaders and Islamist groups that call for Israel’s destruction.