Israel has returned the bodies of some of the terrorists who were killed while carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis, in hopes of assuaging Palestinian anger and reducing violence.
Seven of twenty-two bodies in the possession of Israeli authorities were handed over to the Arabs of Chevron on Friday, after receiving assurances from local leaders that they would work to calm tensions.
Further transfer of bodies are expected in the coming days, according to Arab sources.
The decision to release the bodies came after a recent cabinet decision not to accede to Palestinian demands for the bodies until or unless the violence stops. However, as one security official told Hamodia, if the price of peace is the return of the bodies, Israel will do it; but if the violence continues, the transfers will stop.
Briefing reporters, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the security cabinet had reassessed the refusal to return the bodies because of the resentment it stirred among Palestinians.
Israel’s concern is that the funerals of the terrorists not be exploited to rouse anti-Israel hatred, as has often occurred in the past.
On two occasions where Israel handed over bodies for burial, the Palestinian Authority “met our conditions” by ensuring the funerals were “modest family affairs, held at night,” Yaalon said.
He said a third handover, in Chevron, was halted before all the bodies were delivered because “they (Palestinians) in effect allowed a popular funeral that we saw as a security threat” as it inflamed anti-Israel passions.
“Where there is a commitment to quiet, modest funerals, we will continue to return (bodies). Where there is not, we will not return them, even if that means us burying them here,” Yaalon said.