Palestinians gather in West Bank to respect martyrs

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Thousands of Palestinians have gathered in the West Bank city of al-Bireh to welcome the remains of four Palestinians killed by Israel several years ago.

The Palestinians gathered in the city on Tuesday to pay respect to the bodies belonging to two members of Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas Imad and Adil Awadallah as well as Tawfiq Muhamid and Ezz al-Din al-Masri. The Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops nearly 16 years ago.

They have been held in unmarked graves by Israeli authorities since 1998. Tel Aviv began exhuming the bodies in January 2014 following years of international pressure to return them.

The remains of the four men were handed down to Palestinian authorities through Tulkarm checkpoint. Their funeral procession will be held later this week.

Human rights groups say now that the bodies of those killed have returned to their family, they can investigate how they were killed. The groups have also urged the international community to put more pressure on Tel Aviv to release over 280 more Palestinian bodies they are holding in unmarked graves.

The families of the killed Palestinians say they can finally give their loved ones a dignified funeral following years of campaign and international pressure on Israel.

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