Relatives of victims of a 2003 suicide bombing in Haifa reacted angrily yesterday to reports that the bomber's remains may be turned over to the Palestinian Authority, along with those of 80 other bodies of Palestinian terrorists buried in Israel.
At the last minute, however, Defense Minister Ehud Barak nixed the deal, saying they need to check which bodies are being returned and that it won't affect talks for Gilad Shalit's release.
Hanadi Jaradat, 29, a lawyer from Jenin, blew herself up in Haifa's Maxim Restaurant on October 4, 2003, killing 21 people and injuring 51.
Toni Matar, Maxim's owner, who lost his uncle and several employees in the bombing, told Haaretz yesterday that "the bodies should be handed over, but only in exchange for [captive soldier] Gilad Shalit.
"They don't deserve it and it's just not right. We are always making concessions and it's one-way," Matar said.
Sources in the Prime Minister's Bureau said that the PA had submitted the request to defense establishment officials two months ago. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had given the go-ahead to Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of activities in the occupied territories, the sources added.
Dangot has been in touch in recent weeks with the PA Minister for Civilian Affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, over the details of the transfer, which is expected to take place in a few days, ahead of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
Orly Almog, who lost her husband, one son and other relatives in the bombing, and whose other son, Oren, was blinded in the incident, said she believed the government should have asked the families of the victims first. She also said such a deal should be linked to Gilad Shalit's return.
A source in the Prime Minister's Bureau said: "This is a humanitarian gesture. Israel does not traffic in bodies."