Ehud Barak
Photo: Defense Ministry

Barak nixes transfer of Hamas terrorists' bodies

Defense minister suspends planned transfer of terrorists' remains to PA; orders remains of Hamas militants excluded from future talks

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday ordered the cancelation of the planned transfer of several Hamas terrorists' remains to the Palestinian Authority.


Barak's announcement was meant to end what was described as "the confusion" surrounding reports suggesting that Israel had agreed to release the bodies of 84 Palestinians involved in grave terror attacks against Israeli targets.



Among the names initially included in the list were Hanadi Jaradat, a Palestinian woman who blew herself up in Haifa's Maxim restaurant in 2003, killing 21 people; Ramez Sali Abu Salim, the terrorist who murdered seven people by blowing himself up at Jerusalem's Café Hillel; Ihab Abu Salim, who killed eight people in a central Israel suicide bombing and several prominent Hamas militants who carried out suicide bombings in Haifa, Zrifin and Hebron.


Barak also ordered that the remains of 10 terrorists who used to reside in Gaza be excluded from any future lists.


Security sources said that the decision stemmed, among other things, from the possibility that a list that would include the remains in question would be compiled as part of the efforts to secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.


As for remains which have not been identified as Hamas militants, Israel and the PA are set to deliberate the matter soon.


Israel and the PA have been negotiating the issue for over a year: The Palestinians initially demanded the retune of 170 bodies, but Israel – after examining the remains – agreed to release only 84, which were buried in Israel.


Barak's decision, the sources said, is in line with the defense establishment's stance that only remains belonging to Fatah members can be released to the Palestinian Authority.


The defense establishment believes the matter can be concluded within several months.


Blame game?

Members of the security cabinet and the seven-minister security forum were reportedly irked by the manner in which the negotiations were held, saying that they were not "kept in the loop" as they should have been.


Political sources painted a picture of confusion and disorder regarding the decision making process in the matter, as well as complete lack of communication between the military and the government; the blame for which, they insisted, lies squarely with the military.


"Someone… gave the Palestinians the names, but it was a 'wish list' – nothing more. The political echelon had nothing to do with it," a Jerusalem source said.


The IDF rejected the accusation, saying that with the exception of preparatory work by the GOC Central Command regarding potential names, "No list was compiled and therefore none had to be approved by the government."


The sources added that the Palestinians decided to publish the draft list negotiated – and based on remains located in Israel – as one already approved by Israel.


Political sources in Jerusalem said that "either the Palestinians misunderstood the situation, or someone on the ground made the mistake of presenting the 84 names as remains Israel was willing to hand over."


Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 07.05.11, 17:36
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