Israel Reportedly Agrees to Hand Over Bodies of Seven Palestinians Killed in Confrontations

Police agree to transfer the remains held for months after negotiations with families under pressure from Israel's High Court, according to the Palestinian prisoner administration.

AP

The Israel Police has agreed to hand over the bodies of seven Palestinians from East Jerusalem who were killed in confrontations with Israeli forces and which were held for a number of months, the Palestinian prisoner administration on Monday.

The decision was announced after negotiations and under pressure from Israel's High Court of Justice.

On July 25, the court instructed police and prosecutors to explain why the bodies should not be returned to the families that petitioned the court so they could bury their children.

The state had informed the court beforehand it had stopped releasing bodies of Palestinians involved in violence, citing a "renewal of the wave of terrorism." The government had been expected to respond anew to the court on Monday, then asked for a 48 hour postponement.

Because the court forced the government to reply to the petition, the Public Security Ministry renewed negotiations with the families in recent weeks, in an attempt to reach a deal over the terms for releasing the bodies. 

Muhammad Mahmoud, the lawyer representing the families, told Haaretz that Israel set a condition for transferring the bodies, demanding a limit on funeral participants to only 25 people, and a 20,000 shekel guarantee.

Israel will release on Wednesday the body of Muhammad Jamal al-Kalouti, killed in March near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City after carrying out a shooting attack at a bus in the Ramot neighborhood.

Mahmoud said al-Kalouti will be buried in the Bab al-Zahara cemetery in East Jerusalem after midnight.

But Mahmoud said the issue of bodies withheld from burial had not yet been resolved.

"We filed a petition with the High Court in the name of seven families from Jerusalem and in the meantime Israel is holding another eight bodies of young people who were shot and killed after the High Court [petition]." Mahmous said.

"Recently there have been contacts and talk with the Public Security Ministry and there is a feeling of a change in position. Returning the bodies will start on this Wednesday and I hope this will end quickly without a need to return to the High Court or to request its intervention again," he added.

Sources close to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan say he believes the bodies should be returned to families that agree to police terms to limit funeral participants and avoid acts of incitement.

The decision to release the bodies was a result of contacts between Erdan and the Palestinian ministry, helped by Knesset member Osama Saadia of the Joint List.