Israeli police released security camera footage on Thursday purportedly showing how three Palestinian citizens of Israel managed to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound with weapons, which they then used to carry out a deadly shooting attack on Friday , in which the three assailants and two Israeli police officers were killed.
The footage was made public as the Israeli Supreme Court agreed to hold a hearing over whether to return the bodies of Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Jabarin, 29, Muhammad Hamid Abd al-Latif Jabarin, 19, and Muhammad Ahmad Mufdal Jabarin, 19, who were killed that day in occupied East Jerusalem.
According to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the footage allegedly shows the Jabarins walking through Jerusalem’s Old City and entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. A fourth person is seen entering the compound separately, with a backpack Israeli police believe was holding the weapons used in the attack.
The alleged accomplice is later seen leaving Al-Aqsa without his bag, with the three Jabarins seen leaving the compound carrying the backpack.
According to Israeli police, upon exiting with the weapons, the Jabarins changed clothing and headed back towards Al-Aqsa once again with the weapons, shooting and killing police officers Hail Stawi, 30, and Kamil Shakib Shinan, 22 — who also happened to be Palestinian citizens of Israel — before being shot and killed themselves by Israeli forces inside the compound.
Meanwhile, rights group Adalah reported on Thursday that, hours after it had submitted a petition calling for Israeli authorities to immediately return the bodies of the Jabarins to their families for burial, the Supreme Court had decided to hold a hearing on the issue, scheduled for Sunday.
“Holding of and refusal to return the bodies has no legal authority or basis, and there is no legal order that allows Israeli police to retain bodies,” Adalah lawyer Muhammad Bassam wrote in the petition.
“It is the right of every individual to be buried in a quick, respectable, and appropriate manner. This right cannot be separated from the right to dignity; indeed, the right to dignity is not granted strictly to the living but also to individuals after their death.”
Khalid Hamdan Aghbariya, the mayor of the town Umm al-Fahm, where the Jabarins were from, was reportedly told by senior Israeli police officials that the decision to withhold the three young men’s bodies was taken by political figures in the Israeli government, and not by security forces, Adalah noted.
Adalah also called on the Israeli Ministry of Justice’s police investigations division to perform autopsies on the bodies of Muhammad Ahmad Mufdal Jabarin and Muhammad Hamid Jabarin to determine their causes of death.
Israeli authorities dramatically escalated a policy of withholding Palestinian bodies killed by Israeli forces following the emergence of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, having repeatedly claimed that funerals of Palestinians had provided grounds for “incitement” against the Israeli state.
Following uproar among Palestinians over the policy, and recommendations by Israeli security officials who stated that the policy was not effective, Israeli authorities began scaling down the practice.
However, Israel’s security cabinet said in January that the bodies of Palestinians allegedly affiliated to the Hamas movement would not be returned to their families, as Israel considers the bodies to be a bargaining chip that could be used in a future exchange deal with Hamas.
There has been no indication thus far that the Jabarins were affiliated with Hamas. In the wake of Friday’s attack, Israeli forces shut down the Al-Aqsa compound for two days, only to reopen it after having installed security cameras, metal detectors, and turnstiles at the entrances of the compound, sparking serious tensions across the occupied Palestinian territory.
Palestinians have long accused the Israeli government of using Israeli-Palestinian violence and tensions as a means of furthering control over important sites in the occupied Palestinian territory and normalizing heightened measures by Israeli forces targeting Palestinians.[Source: Ma;an news]