Israel Releases Bodies of 23 Palestinian Assailants to Families

Previous policy of withholding bodies to avert mass funeral demonstrations changed because it caused additional unrest among Palestinians.

AFP

Israel returned the bodies of 23 Palestinians killed while carrying out suspected attacks on Israelis to their families on Friday, the Palestinian news service Ma'an reported.

The bodies were transferred to a number of points in the West Bank by Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances.

Seventeen of the bodies were transferred to the southern West Bank city of Hebron via the Tarqumiya crossing, from where they were taken to Hebron’s al-Ahli hospital, where Palestinian officials and thedeceased's families were waiting.

They will be autopsied at the hospital morgue, before being buried on Saturday.

The chief prosecutor of the Hebron area, Ashraf Mashaal, told Ma’an that prosecutors will determine the ultimate causes of death of those Palestinians killed.

The bodies of three Palestinians from the Ramallah area were turned over by Israeli authorities near the Ofer detention camp.

Other bodies were returned to Jenin and Nablus.

Another eight bodies were returned to their Authority on Thursday.

Previous releases by Israel were conditioned on the Palestinians holding small, non-public funerals, but that objective was not achieved. Thousands of people participated in Hebron funerals that turned into large demonstrations.

The security cabinet subsequently decided that the bodies of those who were killed during attacks or attempted attacks on Jews would not be returned to their families. But the defense apparatus regarded the withholding of the bodies as being counter-productive, because it created greater unrest on the Palestinian street.

The policy was consequently changed about two weeks ago.

Israel continues to demand that mass funerals be restricted when the bodies are returned. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that "It's possible we'll bury the bodies [in Israel] if the Palestinians don't honor Israel's condition."

Three Palestinian bodies were returned to their families three weeks ago, among them the body of Hadil Awad, 14, who was involved in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem in November.