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Settlers urge army to return body of Palestinian teen

15-year-old was shot and killed last month in clashes with IDF, but petitioners say he was not involved

Palestinian protesters throw rocks and fireworks at an Israeli guard tower on July 25, 2014, in the Beit Ummar village, north of the West Bank city of Hebron (Photo credit: Hazem Bader/AFP)
Palestinian protesters throw rocks and fireworks at an Israeli guard tower on July 25, 2014, in the Beit Ummar village, north of the West Bank city of Hebron (Photo credit: Hazem Bader/AFP)

A group of people from the Etzion settlement bloc have appealed to the Defense Ministry to hand over for a family funeral the body of a Palestinian teen shot dead by the army.

In a letter seen by AFP on Thursday, seven rabbis were among around 30 Gush Etzion residents who called on Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to “immediately” deliver the body of Khaled Bahar, 15, for burial.

Bahar was shot dead on October 20 as Israeli soldiers opened fire on Palestinian stone-throwers near Beit Ummar in the southern West Bank.

The signatories of the letter said an investigation by the army had found that Bahar “apparently had nothing to do with the stone-throwers.”

“We, inhabitants of Gush Etzion, with links to residents of Beit Ummar and neighboring villages, ask that the family be allowed to bury the young man”, the letter reads, noting that the Bible does not allow bodies to go unburied.

Also among the signatories were the poet Eliaz Cohen and Michal Froman, a young woman who was stabbed by a Palestinian assailant in January at a time when she was pregnant.

Michal Froman speaks from her hospital bed on January 19, 2016, a day after she was stabbed at her home settlement of Tekoa. (Channel 2 screenshot)
Michal Froman speaks from her hospital bed on January 19, 2016, a day after she was stabbed at her home settlement of Tekoa. (Channel 2 screenshot)

Since the October 2015 start of a wave of violence, much of which have targeted settlements in the West Bank, Israeli forces often refused to return the bodies of killed Palestinians, sometimes for several months.

Under former defense minister Moshe Yaalon, the army had started to return the bodies as a means to reducing tensions. But his successor Liberman on June 9 ordered a resumption of the policy.

A year of Palestinian terrorism and violence has seen 36 Israelis, two Americans and an Eritrean national killed in stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks. According to AFP figures, some 238 Palestinians, a Jordanian and a Sudanese migrant have also been killed, 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.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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