Israel Returns Bodies of Jerusalem Synagogue Terrorists

Government considered not releasing the bodies as deterrent, but threat of High Court petition persuaded Netanyahu to release the bodies for burial.

Emil Salman

Over a month after the terrorist attack on the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to release the bodies of the two Palestinian perpetrators to their families for burial. The two terrorists, Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal, cousins from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber, were buried there early Thursday morning, with over 200 people participating in the funerals.

The cousins murdered five people – four worshippers and a Druze policeman who responded to the attack – in a bloody attack on the synagogue on November 18, and were killed by police who responded to the massacre.

After completing the investigation of the incident, the police informed the families that in an exceptional decision the state was considering not releasing the bodies for burial, or to bury them without the presence of the family. The family said it was told that the reason was to deter future terrorists. This was the first time the government has decided not to release bodies as a means of deterrence.

Israel Police’s legal advisor, Shaul Gordon, wrote to Muhammad Mahmoud, the lawyer for the families, saying the decision to keep the bodies and not to release them immediately after the terror attack was made because “it could be a deterring factor that could reduce the motivation to carry out [terrorist] attacks of this type.”

Mahmoud prepared a petition to the High Court of Justice and on Tuesday informed the police of it. On Thursday Mahmoud was informed that Netanyahu had decided to release the bodies to the families.

NII reinstates health insurance for terrorist’s children

On Tuesday, the National Insurance Institute said it would reinstate the health insurance of the children of Ghassan Abu Jamal. Last month the NII revoked the residency permits of the terrorist’s three children, aged two, four and six, and as a result their medical insurance was also automatically revoked. On Tuesday, a lawyer for the NII informed Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, which represents the family, in a one-sentence letter that a decision had been made “for now to reinstate the children in the matter to the health registry.”

Representatives of Hamoked said they are postponing for now the High Court petition against what they say seems to be a policy of revenge by the NII, and asked for clarifications about the children’s status.

MK Danny Danon (Likud) attacked the decision to release the bodies: “This is turning our backs on the families of those murdered and encouraging terror. We saw what happened recently when brutal terrorists turn into heroes and their funeral processions become enlistment marches for the next generation of terrorists.”