Israel Returns Remains of Four Palestinian Assailants

One is that of former Hamas official Muhammad Abd al-Rahman al-Hanbali.

Israel on Tuesday returned four bodies of Palestinians held for more than a decade, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reports.

Three of the bodies - former Hamas official Muhammad Abd al-Rahman al-Hanbali, Muhammad Abd al-Hamid Saleh Hamoudha, and Yasser Ahmad Saleh - were delivered to the Taibeh checkpoint on Tuesday night. The fourth, the remains of Jamil Khalaf Mustafa Hmeid, was delivered to his family at the Tarkumiyeh checkpoint.

In February, after appeals from human rights groups, Israel decided to return the bodies of 30 assailants, including suicide bombers, also held for more than a decade. Returning bodies of Palestinians with "blood on their hands" is controversial: families of terrorism victims may object. The High Court of Justice however ruled in favor of Palestinian families who had sued to get back the remains.

Thousands of Palestinians attended the funerals of suicide bombers whose bodies Israel returned in February, including that of 18-year old Ayat al-Akhras, who murdered Rachel Levy, 17, and security guard Haim Smadar, 55, and injured 28 others when she blew herself up inside a supermarket in Jerusalem's Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood at the height of the second intifada in March 2002.

"Those who killed civilians should be treated like people who committed war crimes," said Meir Indor, head of Almagor, a group that speaks for victims of attacks by militants, back in February, adding that Adolf Eichmann's body was not returned. Eichmann became the only person Israel has executed, in 1962, for his role in orchestrating the Holocaust.

Earlier this year Israel returned seven more bodies dating from the second Palestinian uprising.