The Palestinian Authority on Saturday held funerals in the West Bank city of Hebron for five Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks or attempted attacks on Israelis.
Riots erupted Saturday afternoon at Ayush Square near Hebron as the funerals were taking place, Channel 10 television reported. Thousands of people turned out for the funeral procession, packing into the streets of the city.
Despite cabinet opposition to the move, Israel transferred the bodies of five to the West Bank on Friday, while local residents gathered to mark the occasion.
The Palestinian baby who died Friday allegedly from inhaling tear gas fired by IDF troops near Bethlehem was also to be buried Saturday, the Ynet news website said. Eight-month-old Ramadan Muhammad Thawabteh was to be laid to rest in home village of Beit Fajjar. The IDF said it was investigating the incident.
The transfer of the five bodies took place Friday night at the Tarkumiyah crossing in Hebron, Ynet reported, where the Palestinian Authority held an official ceremony for their return.
Thousands of Palestinians also arrived Friday night at the PA headquarters in Hebron for a state ceremony laid on for the occasion, Ynet said. The funerals for the five were to take place on Saturday, during which there was to be a second state ceremony. The bodies were to undergo autopsies on Friday night to determine the causes of death.
Israel on Friday afternoon released the body of 16-year-old Muhammad Zakarna, from the Jenin area, who was killed while attempting to stab an Israeli security guard last weekend. The teen had posed as a candy seller and then attacked the guard at a checkpoint near Jenin, in the northern West Bank. He was shot and killed by security forces.
On Friday evening, Israel also returned the remains of 22-year-old Muataz Atallah Qassem from Eizariya in East Jerusalem, who was shot dead by an IDF soldier after he stabbed and critically wounded a 20-year-old female soldier in the West Bank last week.
The body was taken to a hospital in East Jerusalem, and from there Qassem was to be buried, Ynet said.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman criticized the decision to return the bodies, calling it appeasement.
“The return of the bodies in contravention of a cabinet decision is an unacceptable step aimed at appeasing terrorists, and is tantamount to a ransom payment for threats against Israel,” the former foreign minister said.
“Such a shameful surrender to Palestinian threats will not only fail to bring calm, but rather will merely lead to an increase in terror,” he added.
But a Palestinian official in Hebron said Friday that the return of some of the bodies was an Israeli step aimed at restoring calm in the city after a wave of daily violence, Ynet reported. The official said that the rest of the bodies would be handed over only if quiet returned to Hebron and no more attackers set out from the area.