Israeli court orders exhumation of dead Palestinian terrorists

By Rosa Doherty, January 20, 2014

Palestinian militants killed by Israelis have been exhumed and returned to their families for reburial.

Among the bodies is that of Majdi Khanafer, a resident of a village south of Jenin who was killed in 2002 by the IDF as he was on his way to carry out an attack.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army said: “In accordance with a Supreme Court decision, the [military] has begun the return of bodies of terrorists to their respective families in the Palestinian Authority."

The first body was returned to his family in the West Bank town of Jenin on Sunday.

A Palestinian activist group that campaigns for the return of bodies has suggested that the remains of 36 militants would be handed over for reburial.

But the Israeli army is yet to specify the number of bodies or the identities of the dead.

Two more bodies are expected to be handed over on Tuesday. The entire process could take up to two weeks.

While that move was intended as a confidence-building gesture, it was not related to the ongoing peace talks and was a legal matter, according to a senior Israeli official.

In 2012, in an attempt to restart the peace talks, Israel returned the remains of 91 Palestinian militants.

Last updated: 3:42pm, January 20 2014