Israel Won't Return Bodies of Hamas Men Killed During Terror Attacks

Israel's Cabinet decides special cemetery will be set up for Hamas-linked assailants as part of attempt to pressure group dominant in Gaza to return bodies of slain Israeli soldiers.

Mourners carry the body of of 38-year-old Palestinian Iyad Hamed, 38, during his funeral in Silwad after he was killed by Israeli troops. August 26, 2016.
Abbas Momani, AFP

Israel will not return the bodies of Hamas-linked Palestinian assailants killed during alleged terror attacks to their families, the cabinet decided on Sunday.

Instead, their bodies will be interred in a cemetery established for this purpose.

The Prime Minister's Office said that the cabinet meeting focused on ways to win the return of Israeli civilians held in Gaza and bodies of soldiers killed there. 

The decision was reached unanimously as part of Israel's attempt to use Palestinian relatives of assailants to pressure Hamas to return the bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers in return for their loved ones.

Last month, Israel's security cabinet decided to withhold the bodies of Palestinian assailants affiliated with Hamas and only return the bodies of other assailants to their families.

The policy was reached following a disagreement on the issue between Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who thoroughly opposed handing over the remains, and the Israeli army representative, who said the IDF supports returning the bodies to families.

The debate took place as part of the state's formulation of an answer to a High Court appeal filed by assailants' families demanding to receive their sons' remains for burial. The court asked the state to explain why it isn’t returning the bodies.  

The state said in response to the petition saying  it will hand over the bodies to the families of the deceased only if they agree to the Israel Defense Forces' conditions regarding the funerals. The remaining bodies belong to terrorists affiliated with Hamas and thus will not be handed over.