Israel on Sunday began transferring bodies of Palestinian Arab terrorists killed by Israeli forces to the Palestinian Authority-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria for reburial, sources on both sides told AFP.
According to Fatma Abdallah, media coordinator for the "Palestinian national committee to return the bodies of martyrs", Israel handed over the body of Majdi Khanfar, originally from Silat al-Zaher near Jenin, via a border crossing.
Israeli public radio said Khanfar was killed 10 years ago.
Abdallah told AFP another two bodies out of the 36 Israel had committed to returning would be handed over on Tuesday, as part of a court ruling.
The IDF told AFP that "in accordance with a Supreme Court decision and following the instruction of the government of Israel, the IDF has begun the return of bodies of terrorists to their respective families in the Palestinian Authority."
"The IDF is attending this assignment with the utmost professionalism and the required sensitivity," it said in a statement.
The Supreme Court ordered that Israel release the terrorists’ bodies after their families, assisted by Israeli leftist groups, appealed to the court, demanding the bodies be transferred for burial in the PA.
The Supreme Court accepted the appeal and ordered that the bodies be transferred to the PA, after DNA tests to prove that they are indeed the terrorists in question are held.
The transfer of the bodies comes shortly after the third batch of terrorist prisoners were released by Israel, as part of ongoing peace talks between the sides.
Before the terrorist release in December, the Supreme Court rejected a last minute petition filed by activists and families whose loved ones were killed in the terror attacks perpetrated by the prisoners set to be released.
As in previous appeals before terrorist releases, the Court said that “there is no cause for us to intervene in such processes, as they are political decisions.” The appeal also asked the Court to consider the fact that five of the terrorists were to be released to their homes in Jerusalem, but said that this was not sufficient grounds to prevent the releases.
The Almagor terror victims association has in the past appealed to the Supreme Court against the Israeli policy of transferring bodies of terrorists to the PA.
The appeal was filed after Almagor discovered that the government of Israel, in a deal with the PA, intended to return most of the bodies of terrorists buried in Israel.