A Change in Israeli Policy: IDF Returning Palestinian Assailants' Bodies to Families

Since body of Hadil Awad was returned to her family on Friday, two more bodies were handed over after security establishment opposed holding terrorists’ remains.

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Palestinians carry the body of Raed Jaradat, 22, at the family house during his funeral in the West Bank village of Sa'ir, Hebron, Sunday, November 1, 2015.Credit: AP

After the security cabinet decided not to return the bodies of Palestinians killed while perpetrating terror attacks to their families, Israel has made a change of course.

On Friday, the body of Hadil Awad, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed last month after carrying out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, was returned to her family

Since then, two more bodies have been handed over. One was of Israeli citizen Mohannad al-Okbi, who opened fire in the Be’er Sheva Central Bus Station last October, killing one Israeli soldier. Okbi was from a Bedouin community near the town of Hura. According to family members, the police told them to sign documents pledging that they would only hold a small funeral.

The second body, returned on Sunday, was of Rasha Rayan, shot dead after pulling out a knife at a checkpoint near Alfei Menashe last month. 

The security establishment opposed holding onto terrorists’ remains. According to a security official, holding onto the body is unnecessary and only causes unrest. Israel stopped the process of returning the bodies of terrorists to their families after funerals in Hebron turned into demonstrations attended by thousands of people.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said about two months ago that if the funerals were quiet, Israel would continue to return the bodies of the perpetrators. “Otherwise, we might bury them here,” he warned.

In October Israel handed over the bodies of seven suspected Palestinian terrorists from the Hebron area to the Palestinian Authority, following several days of stormy protests in Hebron in demand for the bodies' immediate release.