Yariv Levin
Yariv Levin Flash 90

Ministers and coalition MKs fumed after the High Court of Justice on Thursday ordered that Israel return the bodies of Hamas terrorists that were killed in last month's Gaza tunnel explosion.

On Thursday, the court ruled that the government lacked the authority to hold the terrorists’ remains in custody, adding that the Knesset must pass new legislation permitting the government to do so.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) slammed the High Court, which they claimed "tied Israel's hands", and vowed that they would pass legislation granting Israel legal recourse to hold onto the bodies.

"The High Court of Justice erred by ruling that it prohibits the State of Israel from holding the bodies of terrorists. We are in a war against murderous terror organizations, and we can not fight them with our hands tied," they said.

"We will immediately enact a law that will allow us to hold the bodies, and we will ensure that the bodies of the terrorists are not transferred to their families without the release of our sons Hadar Goldin, Oron Shaul and the Israeli citizens which Hamas is holding onto."

Hamas has been holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. In addition, two Israeli civilians who went missing in Gaza - Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed - are believed to be held by Hamas as well.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) accused the High Court of "rewarding terrorists" and urged his fellow MKs to pass laws that would limit the High Court. "The High Court of Justice ruling once again expresses a distorted scale of values in which lowly murderers and their families are granted privileges at the expense of IDF soldiers and bereaved families," said Levin.

"I call on my Knesset members from all over the political spectrum to wake up and support legislative initiatives that would change the face of the judicial system and the composition of the Supreme Court," continued Levin.

"It's sad when the High Court prefers the rights of terrorists over bereaved families," added Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud).

In October, Israeli forces discovered a terror tunnel extending from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip into the western Negev in Israel.

The tunnel, which extended from the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, was demolished by the IDF shortly after its discovery.

Twelve terrorists present inside the tunnel at the time of the demolition were killed. Of the 12 terrorists, the remains of five were recovered by IDF forces after the demolition was completed. Israel seized the bodies and senior members in the security establishment vowed to use them as bargaining chips for the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

However, the relatives of the terrorists, the Hamas terror organization, and the Israeli-Arab NGO Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel demanded Israel return the bodies of the terrorists to Gaza, contending that Israel's policy "violated international law".

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