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Middle East

Funeral for Palestinians after a decade

Israel returns about 30 bodies of Palestinian bombers and gunmen after more than a decade.

Last updated: 02 Feb 2014 21:05
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Israel's handing over of the remains of Palestinians for reburial is a move that could help ease tension [Reuters]

More than a decade after they died, Israel is returning about 30 bodies of Palestinian assailants, including that of Ayat al-Akhras, who blew herself up outside a busy Jerusalem supermarket in 2002 and killed two Israelis.

Israel has returned the remains of Palestinian attackers from time to time during the decades of conflict, sometimes as part of prisoner swaps, but the current round involves the most recent suicide bombers and gunmen and has revived painful memories for families and friends of some of the victims.

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the teenage bomber al-Akhras' parents, Mohammed and Khadra al-Akhras can now arrange a funeral.

"The pain will end,'' said Mohammed al-Akhras, 67. "At any time during the day, during the night, we can go and visit her." 

The Israeli rights group HaMoked appealed to Israel's Supreme Court in 2011, seeking release of the remains of 31 assailants. The group said that the court didn't rule, but that Israel's Defence Ministry decided late last year to hand over about 30 bodies.

The ministry was not immediately available for comment, the Associated Press news agency said.

In Israel, the return of the remains of attackers from the second Palestinian uprising a decade ago has provoked some anger.

"Those who killed civilians should be treated like people who committed war crimes,'' said Meir Indor, head of Almagor, a group that speaks for victims of attacks.

"Eichmann's body was not given back," he added, referring to Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi who was executed by Israel in 1962 for his role as one of the architects of the Holocaust.

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