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Palestinians and international activists confront Israeli forces to demand bodies of slain Palestinians be returned to families

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Dozens of protesters gathered on a main road in Bethlehem on Friday, demanding the release of several Palestinian bodies being held by Israeli authorities. Protesters gathered at a main intersection in the occupied West Bank city, and marched their way toward the northern side of the Israeli separation wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem.

By the time protesters reached the wall, many stayed back out of fear of arrest or injury. At least two dozen Palestinian protesters and around a dozen Scottish activists approached the main military door in the wall, chanting national slogans and demanding the remains of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces be released to loved ones.

International activists from Scotland joined a Palestinian protest on Friday in demand of the release of Palestinian remains being held by Israeli authorities (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

The Israeli government is refusing to release the bodies of eight Palestinians killed since September 2015 during attempted, alleged, or actual attacks. While 28 bodies had originally been held, the Israeli government has released the remains of the other 20. The remaining eight are the remains of Palestinians accused of being affiliated with the Hamas movement.

Azhar Abu Srour, Abed’s mother has immersed herself in Palestinian non-violent activism, and is present at every West Bank protest in demand of the return of Palestinian bodies. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

The mother and father of Abed al-Hamid Abu Srour, a teenager who committed an explosive attack on an Israeli bus last year, killing himself and injuring at least 20 Israelis were present at the protest. Abu Srour’s attack took place on April 18, 2016, and Israeli authorities have refused demands to release his remains his parents, who hope to give their son a proper burial.

Scottish activists joined the protest, singing songs about peace and freedom for Palestine next to the separation wall.

Before shooting tear gas, Israeli forces released sound bombs very close to protesters.

One young woman, a Palestinian journalist, was hit in the leg by shrapnel from a sound bomb and had to be rushed to a nearby hospital in a passerby’s car.

Eventually, Israeli forces began firing tear gas from hand-held launchers, and protesters had to flee the area until the gas cleared.

Once the tear gas was swept away by the wind, protesters came up from side roads and buildings and returned to the separation wall.

The group, called “We Sing With You” in English, traveled from Edinburgh as non-violent activists to the occupied West Bank in solidarity with Palestinians. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

The visiting activists ducked and covered their ears during the sound bomb explosions, but continued singing. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

When it was clear protesters were not going to disperse early, Israeli forces opened the large door in the wall, and released a military jeep with tear gas munitions mounted on the roof.

“Behimish,” (which literally translates to “I don’t care”) stands in the middle of the road, blocking an Israeli jeep from speeding down toward protesters to release tear gas. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

An elderly man, known as “Behimish,” (which literally translates to “I don’t care”) because of the way he confronts Israeli forces, stands in the middle of the road, blocking an Israeli jeep from speeding down toward protesters to release tear gas.

The jeep eventually got around the elderly man and began shooting off copious amounts of tear gas.

Protesters abandon the streets when gas is shot off by the jeeps. Severe tear gas inhalation can cause serious health problems, particularly for the very young and very old.

Protesters refused to allow the gate to close for several minutes. Using their bodies to stop the gate from closing while verbally confronting Israeli forces.

In addition to the eight bodies being held by Israeli forces from the last 16 months of upheaval, it is estimated that Israel is withholding more than 262 more Palestinian bodies, according to Palestinian official numbers, however, Israel has stated only 119 remains of Palestinians are being withheld.

Munther Amira, a local activist and one of the organizers of the march, confronting a young Israeli soldier, who can be seen peeking out from a small window in the door of the separation wall. (Photo: Mondoweiss/Sheren Khalel)

Sheren Khalel
About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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2 Responses

  1. JWalters
    April 14, 2017, 10:02 pm

    Given the overall context, it sounds like there might be some hiding of evidence going on.

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