The body of Ahmed Muhammad Mahameed, who was shot dead after he attempted to stab a policemen in Jerusalem’s Old City last week, was released by Israeli authorities overnight Monday.
Mahameed’s body was handed over after The Adaleh Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel petitioned the High Court in the wake of a police demand that the family sign a NIS 100,000 (approximately $27,000) guarantee that no more than 50 people attend the funeral.
An agreement was struck between police and Adaleh that the petition would be withdrawn if Mahameed’s body was released by 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Fireworks were lit in the northern town of Umm al-Fahm to mark the return of the body, and hundreds attended his funeral.
A relative of the stabber, Ali Mahameed, told the Hebrew-language Ynet news site that the delay in releasing the body was an act of torment by Israeli authorities.
“The police delayed the delivery to abuse the family. As far as we are concerned, Ahmad is a hero and a martyr,” he said.
Police said Mahameed emerged from the direction of the Temple Mount on Friday afternoon and approached a group of policemen, pulling out a knife and attempting to stab one of them.
The officers scuffled with the assailant and one of them shot him, killing him.
Mahameed’s family said that he struggled with mental health issues, and had not carried out the attack for nationalistic reasons.
Mahameed had spent significant time in the Sha’ar Menashe psychiatric medical center in northern Israel, according to his brother Nissim Mahameed. “He was sick and could not function,” Nissim told the Haaretz daily on Saturday.
His father said Ahmed had twice tried to take his own life.
“There was an incident once where we were sitting outside our house and we heard shouts from inside. He had taken pills and tried to commit suicide,” Muhammad Mahameed told the Walla news site.
Mahameed did not have a history of involvement in security offenses.
The family condemned the officer who fired the fatal shot for being “light with his finger on the trigger.”
The Umm al-Fahm Municipality released a statement Saturday condemning police for what it called the “cold-blooded murder” of its resident.
Police said an initial probe of the incident had shown police fire was entirely justified.
“No one can expect policemen to know a terrorist who is attacking them with a knife is mentally ill,” a senior official said in response to the family’s claim.
The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday extended by two days the detention of three men suspected of involvement in the attempted stabbing attack, overruling the Magistrate’s Court which had released them to house arrest.
The suspects, all residents of the northern Israel Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, were arrested in the hours after the attack after police identified them walking through the alleyways of Jerusalem’s Old City close to Mahameed.