Israel sets ‘certain conditions’ for return of Palestinian bodies

Friday 05/02/2016
Part of Israel’s policy of collective punishment

JERUSALEM - Israeli is ready to return the bodies of 10 Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks but their families have refused to accept certain conditions, a government spokesman said on Monday.

Israel will return the bodies if the families "agree in advance that the funerals take place at night, with a limited number of attendees," a spokesman for the ministry of public security said.

"These conditions have not yet been accepted by the families," he said, despite reports in the Israeli media that two of the bodies could be returned by Tuesday to families in east Jerusalem.

Since a wave of violence erupted in October, 165 Palestinians have been killed. More than half of them were attackers.

The violence has also claimed the lives of 26 Israelis, an American, an Eritrean and a Sudanese.

Israel does not always immediately return the bodies of slain attackers.

The policy has infuriated Palestinians and sparked condemnation from rights groups who decry what they say is "collective punishment".

Israeli security forces are also divided on the policy.

The army, which controls the occupied West Bank, argues that such confiscations exacerbate tensions and has returned dozens of bodies since December.

Annexed east Jerusalem however is under the authority of Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan and he has staunchly refused to release the bodies of the 10 attackers.

Three Arab Israeli members of parliament last week met the relatives of Palestinians killed while attacking Israelis, sparking a bitter row in parliament.

On Sunday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would advance legislation to enable the Knesset to suspend members over what he termed "inappropriate behaviour".

Arab Israelis -- who represent about 18 percent of Israel's population -- are the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.

They hold Israeli citizenship but largely sympathise with the Palestinian cause.