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Israel Returns Bodies of Palestinian Militants

  • Robert Berger

Palestinians carry flag-covered coffins containing the remains of Palestinian militants
JERUSALEM - Israel has returned the bodies of dozens of militants to the Palestinian territories for burial.

Palestinians held solemn ceremonies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after Israel handed over the bodies of 91 Palestinian militants, including suicide bombers involved in deadly attacks. Palestinian officials described them as heroes and martyrs, but West Bank shopkeeper Mahmoud Walid has mixed feelings.

“Thank God they get back, but there is a lot of wars; never was peace in this Holy Land. It’s hard, really hard," he said.

Many Israelis are outraged at the handover of the remains because the bombers were responsible for killing hundreds of people. Meir Indor heads Almagor, an organization that represents victims of Palestinian terror.

“You are talking about terrorists. You cannot make any compromise with terrorists because [if] you make one deal it will bring you to another deal. It's like a Mafia, and with Mafia you have to fight," he said.

Israeli government spokesman Yigal Palmor says the return of the bodies is aimed at reviving the peace process that collapsed more than three years ago.

“This is a measure intended to build confidence. It’s a goodwill measure and we hope it will be accepted as such. Our hope is still to renew negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible," he said.

The Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table until Israel stops all settlement expansion, but Israel says peace talks should resume without preconditions.

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