Israel Mistakenly Hands Over Assailant's Body to Palestinians

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Ax used in West Bank attack on soldier near Al-Aroub on April 14,2016
The ax used in the West Bank attack on an IDF soldier near Al-Aroub on April 14,2016. Credit: IDF Spokesman

A misunderstanding Friday caused Israel to give the Palestinian Authority the body of a Palestinian who was killed after he tried to attack Israeli soldiers with an ax. At first, the Israel Defense Forces said the decision to hand over the body of Ibrahim Baradiya was taken at the behest of the government, but later said it was a misunderstanding.

Baradiya, 53, from a village north of Hebron, attempted to attack IDF soldiers with an ax on Thursday at an army outpost near the Al-Aroub refugee camp, located near Bethlehem. He was shot dead on the scene and no soldiers were wounded. On Friday, his body was transferred to Palestinian authorities.

The IDF said in a statement that "returning the body of the terrorist from the attempted attack in the Al-Aroub refugee camp was done in wake of a mistake stemming from a misunderstanding that is currently being investigated. The policy on returning [assailants' bodies] is done in accordance with the government's decision."

Israel has been reluctant to return the bodies of alleged assailants, citing fears their funeral processions would turn violent and glorify acts of terror, though some in the army have claimed otherwise.

Three weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon decided to halt the transfer of Palestinian assailants' bodies held by the IDF to the Palestinian Authority. Despite Friday's incident, Israel still holds the bodies of three Palestinians involved in terror attacks in Hebron, Jaffa and Petah Tikvah.

Netanyahu's decision contradicted the position of IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and that of the coordinator of government activity in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who said holding on to the bodies also ran the risk of further inflaming tensions with the Palestinians. Even Ya'alon voiced some apprehension at the decision, saying Israel should note "trade in bodies."

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