Funerals held for Palestinians killed in months of violence

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Tens of thousands of people attended funerals in the West Bank on Saturday for Palestinians killed in violence over the past few months during a period of near-daily Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

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The burials came a day after Israel transferred 23 bodies to the West Bank of Palestinians it says were involved in the current wave of attacks.

Many of the attackers came from the West Bank City of Hebron, a frequent flashpoint for violence. Thousands of people attended funerals there on Saturday, some waving Palestinian flags as well as flags of the Islamic militant group Hamas.

In October, Israel began withholding the bodies of suspected attackers as a tactic to crack down on violence. Six of the bodies will be buried on Sunday after autopsies are conducted at the families' request.

Taha Qatanani, 44, said doctors told him the body of his 16-year-old daughter Ashraqat was frozen to a degree that they needed to wait at least two days for the autopsy. "I want to know how she was killed because one day I might prosecute the killer in an international court," Qatanani, whose daughter was killed in November, said.

The military said at the time that she had pulled out a knife at the entrance to a military base and threatened civilians. A local West Bank settler leader who was passing by, said he veered off the road and struck the woman with his vehicle. She was then shot and killed.

Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers over the past three and a half months have killed 21 Israelis, mostly in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. That figure does not include the two Israelis killed Friday by an Arab man in a shooting attack on a Tel Aviv restaurant, as the motive for the attack hasn't officially been determined yet.

During that time, at least 131 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, 90 of them identified by Israel as assailants. The rest died in clashes with security forces.

Israel says the violence is being fanned by a Palestinian campaign of incitement. The Palestinians say it is rooted in frustrations stemming from nearly five decades of Israeli occupation



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