Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved, several months ago, the transfer of 84 terrorist bodies to the Palestinian Authority, the IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement Monday evening.
The army's statement confirms earlier Palestinian reports that Israel will be handing over the bodies, which include terrorists that carried out some of the worst attacks in the Jewish state's history.
Aftermath of Maxim bombing in Haifa (Photo: Gil Nechushtan)
"Upon completion of administrative work, and in coordination with all the relevant officials, it was decided to comply with the Palestinian request and hand over the bodies," the IDF said.
"At this time Civil Administration officials and their Palestinian counterparts are engaging in the coordination process regarding the manner and timing of handing over the bodies," the IDF's statement read.
Earlier Monday, Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh said that the Palestinian Authority had agreed with Israel that 84 bodies of Palestinians who were involved in terrorist activity against the Jewish state since 1967 will be handed over to the PA.
The list is said to include, among others, the body of Hanadi Jaradat,
the Palestinian woman who blew herself up in Haifa's Maxim restaurant in 2003, killing 21 people. The bodies are buried in military cemeteries for terrorists inside Israel.
Officials said that the return of the terrorist bodies is not related to efforts to secure a swap for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. The handover of the bodies will apparently be a gesture to the Palestinian Authority ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.
"The move has no diplomatic significance, and had the Palestinians not announced the move, it would have likely continued to be discussed behind the scenes," an Israeli official said.
Officials in Jerusalem estimate that the bodies will be handed over in the near future.