Palestinians in Hebron bury two assailants killed attacking soldiers
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Palestinians in Hebron bury two assailants killed attacking soldiers

Israel on Friday returned the bodies of Mohammed Rajabi and Hatem Shaloudi, both shot dead when stabbing and wounding Israeli troops in September

Mourners attend the funeral of Mohammed Rajabi, a Palestinian who was killed after carrying out a stabbing attack against Israeli soldiers months ago, in the West Bank town of Hebron on January 7, 2017, after his body was returned by Israeli authorities. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
Mourners attend the funeral of Mohammed Rajabi, a Palestinian who was killed after carrying out a stabbing attack against Israeli soldiers months ago, in the West Bank town of Hebron on January 7, 2017, after his body was returned by Israeli authorities. (AFP/Hazem Bader)

Around 1,500 mourners attended the funerals Saturday in the West Bank city of Hebron of two Palestinian assailants who were shot dead last year after stabbing and wounding Israeli soldiers.

Israeli authorities returned their bodies for burial by their families on Friday.

Mohammed Rajabi, 16, lightly wounded a soldier on September 16 when he attacked troops at a checkpoint in the city and slashed one of them in the face. He was shot and killed by forces at the checkpoint.

Hatem Shaloudi, 25, attacked soldiers at a Hebron checkpoint on September 17. A video of the incident showed him present soldiers with a piece of paper, then lunge at them with a knife. A soldier was lightly wounded, and Shaloudi was shot dead by troops.

From October 2015 to the end of 2016, 36 Israelis, two Americans and an Eritrean national were killed in a spate of stabbings, car-rammings and shooting attacks.

According to AFP figures, some 246 Palestinians, a Jordanian and a Sudanese migrant were also killed during the violent spurt, most of them in the course of carrying out attacks, Israel says, and many of the others in clashes with troops in the West Bank and at the Gaza border, as well as in Israeli airstrikes in the Strip.

Since the start of the violence, Israeli forces have confiscated the bodies of slain attackers, often for several months, as a means of deterrence and to prevent clashes and incitement during funerals.

According to AFP, Israel is still withholding the remains of seven Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank, including three from Hebron which is a frequent hotspot.

Mourners at Saturday’s funerals carried pictures of the deceased, Palestinian national flags and banners of various Palestinian groups, including the Islamist terror group Hamas.

It was not known, however, if either Shaloudi or Rajabi were directly linked to Hamas, the Islamist terror group which controls the Gaza Strip.

Israel said last week that it would not release the bodies of Hamas terrorists killed during attacks on Israelis but would instead bury them itself.

The decision by the security cabinet followed the release by Hamas of video footage showing a mock birthday party for Israeli soldier Oron Shaul, believed by the army to have been killed in the 2014 Gaza war.

The government did not elaborate on the burial plan, but said that the same meeting discussed ways of getting back the remains of Shaul and another soldier killed in the Gaza war, Hadar Goldin, as well as obtaining the release of two Israeli civilians missing in Gaza and believed to be held by Hamas.

In September, a senior Israeli official said that Israel had been holding since the war 18 Palestinian militants from Gaza as well as the bodies of 19 others and had “offered to swap them for the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers.”

He said that Hamas turned down the offer.

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