Israel released the bodies of 91 terrorists to the Palestinian Authority early Thursday morning. The release of the bodies is another in an ongoing series of “gestures” by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the PA, in an effort to encourage PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to agree to return to negotiations with Israel. So far, the PA has refused, although Abbas has accepted Israel's “gestures.”
Some of the bodies have been held by Israel for decades. Among those to be handed over to the PA are the remains of seven terrorists who attacked the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv in 1975, the terrorist who killed six people at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem in 2003, and terrorists who bombed buses in Ashkelon in and Be'ersheva in 1996.
However, the identities of the other terrorists have not been made public. The Almagor terror victims organization appealed to the Attorney General, demanding that the government reveal the names of the terrorists whose bodies are to be released. The request was denied, and Almagor appealed to the High Court late Wednesday demanding that the identities be revealed. No ruling has yet been made on that petition. The names that are known were revealed by the PA, not Israel.
Almagor director Meir Indor had harsh words for Netanyahu and for Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "Bibi and Barak have deal deceitfully with the terror-stricken families this past week and issued various excuses to toy with them,” Indor said. “The PA knows the names. The families of the murderers know the names. Only the families of the victims and the Israeli public are not permitted to see them. Last time, the publication of the terrorists' names caused a public controversy that interfered with the transfer. So this time Bibi and Barak figured out that they can use deceit to get their way, by hiding the facts from the victims and withholding information from the public.”
The bodies were removed from a military cemetery in the Jordan Valley Thursday morning and taken to Ramallah, from where they will be dispatched to cemeteries in PA controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, and in Gaza. The PA intends to hold “honor ceremonies” and funerals for the terrorists, most of whom are considered “heroes” among PA Arabs.