Israel to return 91 Palestinian bodies
Jerusalem (CNN) — In what has been described as a humanitarian gesture, the Israeli government on Thursday began handing over the remains of 91 Palestinians killed in attacks against Israeli targets over the last four decades.
The remains, which had been interred in numbered graves by Israel, began arriving in the West Bank and Gaza early Thursday morning, reported WAFA, the Palestinian Authority-controlled news agency.
The remains of 79 Palestinians will be delivered to the seat of the Palestinian government in Ramallah, where Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will preside over an official funeral service.
The remaining 12 will be delivered to families in Gaza.
Among the returned will be the remains of seven Palestinians involved in a 1975 attack against The Savoy hotel in Tel Aviv.
The decision to return the remains, said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev, was meant serve as a “confidence building measure to help get the peace process back on track”
“Israel is ready for the immediate resumption of peace talks without any preconditions whatsoever.” Regev said in a statement.
The return was harshly criticized by some in Israel who compared it to last year’s exchange of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups on the Gaza border in 2006.
Meir Indor, the chairman of Almagor, the Israeli association of terror victims told CNN releasing the remains would only serve “for the continuation terror”
“Beyond our personal feelings, it is devastating to see the hard murderers that were released last year under the Shalit deal becoming a building block in the Palestinian campaign of propaganda and are glorified as freedom fighters” Indor said.
“The Palestinian society must show disapproval of their actions. This is another stage in the making of terrorist theology,” Indor said.