Israel Returns Terrorist Bodies to Palestinian Authority

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

Israel has begun to exhume the remains of a number of Palestinian terrorists to return them to their families for burial, the army said on Sunday.

Israel has over many years interred the bodies of terrorists killed in attacks on Israelis at special cemeteries. It has returned them usually as part of amnesties or prisoner exchanges.

A Palestinian activist from a group that campaigns for the return of bodies said that 36 bodies would be handed over for reburial.

An army spokeswoman declined to specify the number of bodies being returned or the identities of the dead and said the move followed an Israeli court ruling.

Activist Saher Sarsour said Israel was expected to hand over two more of the dead on Tuesday. Israel Radio, quoting Palestinian media, said the process could take several weeks to complete.

In 2012, in a gesture aimed at helping to restart peace talks, Israel returned the remains of 91 Palestinian terrorists who it said had killed hundreds of Israelis over a period spanning four decades.