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In first, body of E. Jerusalem attacker delivered to family

Ahmad Abu Shaaban was shot dead as he carried out a stabbing attack at the capital’s central bus station in October

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Palestinians mourn over the bodies of three men who were killed by Israeli security forces as they carried out a deadly attack in Jerusalem, during their funeral in the village of Qabatiya , near the West Bank city of Jenin, on February 5, 2016 (AFP / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)
Palestinians mourn over the bodies of three men who were killed by Israeli security forces as they carried out a deadly attack in Jerusalem, during their funeral in the village of Qabatiya , near the West Bank city of Jenin, on February 5, 2016 (AFP / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)

Israeli police overnight Sunday transferred the remains of Palestinian terrorist Ahmad Abu Shaaban to his family in East Jerusalem for burial, the first of 10 bodies of East Jerusalem attackers to be handed over by Israeli authorities since the beginning of the current round of violence in the region.

Abu Shaaban, a resident of the Ras al-Amud neighborhood, was shot dead while carrying out a stabbing attack at the city’s central bus station in October.

The attacker’s family had reportedly agreed to a number of conditions, including that the funeral for Abu Shaaban be a small, family-only affair held at night. He was buried at the Lion’s Gate cemetery near the capital’s Old City.

Several Israeli authorities and officials, in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, are in favor of holding on to or significantly delaying the return of attackers’ bodies in order to prevent — or at least dampen — the mass rallies that sometimes accompany funerals of Palestinians, where participants often urge new attacks. The delay is thought to lessen the significance attached to any particular attacker, and so to reduce attendance at the funerals.

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Amjad Abu Omar Sakari, who was shot dead while carrying out an attack on Israeli soldiers near the Beit El settlement, during his funeral in the village of Jamain south of Nablus, on February 1, 2016. (AFP / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)
Palestinian mourners carry the body of Amjad Abu Omar Sakari, who was shot dead while carrying out an attack on Israeli soldiers near the Beit El settlement, during his funeral in the village of Jamain south of Nablus, on February 1, 2016. (AFP / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, however, along with the IDF and other security services, have opposed this policy, saying the practice drives greater anger among Palestinians and undermines PA security forces who work with Israel to prevent attacks.

That difference in outlooks has resulted in the bodies of terrorists from the West Bank, which is under the purview of the Defense Ministry, usually being released not long after attacks, while those of attackers from within Israel proper, including East Jerusalem, where the Public Security Ministry has jurisdiction, are held for much longer.

The release of Abu Shaaban’s body came on the tail end of a particularly bloody day that saw a spate of Palestinian attacks, as a nearly five-month-old wave of violence seemed to return to full force, with five Palestinians being killed while carrying out a series of attacks on Israeli targets. No Israelis were injured in any of the attacks.

Lee Gancman contributed to this report.

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