The 23 bodies that Israeli authorities have been holding in custody were finally turned over to the Palestinian Authority on Friday. A line of 17 ambulances, each carrying one of the bodies, entered Hebron’s al-Ahli Hospital Friday afternoon, while a large crowd gathered to witness the return of the bodies.The Palestinian Authority has pledged to carry out autopsies on each of the bodies returned by Israeli authorities, but it is unclear how that will be carried out.
Of the 23 bodies returned Friday, 17 were from the Hebron area. Israeli authorities held the bodies of the slain Palestinians because of claims that all 23 were involved in attacks against Israelis.
The Governor for the Hebron district, Kamel Hamid, stated, ‘This is the day in which we feel some satisfaction that we are able to welcome the bodies of our children after such prolonged suffering, suffering by the families of the martyrs because of these unprecedented Israeli measures.â€ť
Following two attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinians with knives in October, the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed a measure requiring bodies of slain suspects to be held by Israeli authorities.
The 23 bodies returned on Friday were among the 80 slain Palestinians whose bodies have been held for prolonged periods by Israeli authorities since October.
Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli Defense Minister, stated on November 5th that retaining these bodies did not provide any deterrent effect against future attacks, and recommended that the process be ended. But Israeli authorities have continued to prevent the release of most bodies, prior to the release of 23 on Friday.
Among those whose bodies were released are Mohammad Muneer Salih Hassan, 24, who allegedly shot toward an Israeli military patrol unit. In addition, the bodies of two 20-year olds, Anas Bassam Hammad and Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Ayyad, who were killed in separate incidents in Silwad, were returned to the Hebron governorate on Friday.
The ambulances bearing the bodies of the men and teens were met with hundreds of people including family members of the deceased.
Over 140 Palestinians and 18 Israelis have been killed since October 1st.