Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, a Palestinian assailant who was shot and killed by Israeli soldier Elor Azaria in March as he lay disarmed on the ground, was buried on Saturday in Hebron. Israel had returned al-Sharif’s body to his family on Friday.
A crowd estimated at 1,000 attended the funeral of al-Sharif’s, whose body was wrapped in a Hamas flag, as seen in a video broadcast by Hamas channel Al-Quds TV. Cries of “Allahu akbar” (God is great) as well as other slogans could be heard from the crowds.
Israel has expressed concern that the burials of slain attackers are being used to incite against the Jewish state. As interim defense minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized the return of the body for burial.
On Saturday, Sharif’s father Yusri, 43, demanded that “a fair sentence” be handed down against Azaria. “The Israelis must judge their own just as they judge the Palestinians,” he told AFP. “Imagine if it was the other way around, that a Palestinian had killed someone. They would sentence him to life,” he added.
Jaffa Military Court last month indicted Sgt. Azaria for manslaughter and inappropriate military conduct for shooting and killing Sharif on March 24, minutes after Sharif participated in a stabbing attack against Israeli soldiers in the city of Hebron.
Sharif and another assailant stabbed and wounded one soldier before troops opened fire on them, wounding Sharif and killing the second attacker.
Graphic footage from the scene showed a wounded Sharif still alive minutes later, and then Azaria shooting him in the head. Azaria was arrested, with rights groups labeling his action a summary execution.
Azaria acted in self-defense, his attorneys contended in court, and claimed that the military prosecutor was engaging in selective enforcement by pursuing the case.
Israel earlier Friday also returned the body of a Palestinian woman shot dead on Monday by Border Police guards as she attempted to stab officers at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem, Channel 10 reported.
According to the police, troops manning the Ras Bidu checkpoint in the West Bank opened fire after the woman pulled out a knife and advanced toward a border guard.
The return of the female attacker’s body came just days after Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered a freeze on handing over the remains of terrorists from East Jerusalem to their families.
The original decision to hand over bodies followed a months-long campaign by the families, including through appeals to the High Court of Justice. Police said they feared the funerals for the deceased attackers, who were killed as they stabbed, shot or rammed Israelis with cars over the past seven months, would turn into mass rallies in support of further terror attacks.
Police agreed to release the bodies after the families committed to hold private, subdued funerals that would not include calls for further attacks.
But Erdan intervened on Tuesday, a day after the Ynet news site aired footage of a funeral in East Jerusalem that showed a crowd of some 200 residents demonstrating outside the cemetery with cries of “Allahu akbar” and “In spirit and blood we will redeem you, martyr.”
Border Police forces prevented the demonstrators from entering the cemetery and taking part in the burial of Alaa abu Jamal, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber who carried out a deadly attack last October in the capital.
AFP contributed to this report.