A Palestinian Authority agency dealing with prisoners said Monday that Israel has agreed to hand over for burial the bodies of an unspecified number of Palestinian terrorists killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis over the past year.
The body of Muhammad Jamal al-Kalouti, 21, from Kafr Aqab in East Jerusalem, who shot at a Jerusalem light rail car on March 9, near the Old City’s New Gate, seriously wounding one Israeli, was set to be the first remains handed over on Wednesday, a statement from the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs said.
The statement did not specify whose remains would be released next or how many bodies of attackers Israel had agreed to hand over overall.
The conditions for the transfer of al-Kalouti’s body are that the funeral will be held at midnight and have, at most, 25 people present. Additionally, it imposes a NIS 25,000 ($6,500) deposit to be transferred to Israeli authorities that will be returned to the relatives if the funeral is carried out in accordance with the restrictions.
Israeli officials argue the funerals for the deceased attackers — who were killed as they stabbed, shot, or rammed Israelis with cars over the past 10 months — often turn into mass rallies in support of Palestinian terrorism, and withhold their bodies until the relatives agree to hold subdued burials that don’t include calls for further attacks.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Israeli authorities.
Earlier in August, Israel agreed to release the body of Bahaa Allyan, who was killed while carrying out a deadly attack on a Jerusalem bus in which three Israelis were murdered.
Israel Police summoned Muhammad Allyan to a meeting, and offered to return the remains of his son Bahaa, if the family agreed to bury him in a private, late-night ceremony with only 15 people in attendance, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.
According to the Allyan’s lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud, the East Jerusalem family declined to sign the agreement, citing the small number of mourners allowed to attend.
The offer was made following a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice by Mahmoud earlier this year on behalf of the Allyans and the family of another deceased Palestinian terrorist.
In response to Mahmoud’s petition, the High Court of Justice last month ordered the Israel Police to explain why it was withholding the bodies of deceased East Jerusalem attackers and had not returned the remains to their families for burial. The court gave police three weeks from the July 23 ruling to deliver an explanation.
Earlier this year, the court intervened in a similar case, and ordered authorities to return the body of a Palestinian woman killed in May as she attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem.
At the time, police told the court they feared the funerals for the deceased attackers would turn into mass rallies in support of further terror attacks.
The practice has been implemented inconsistently, particularly as the bodies of terrorists who attacked Israelis in the West Bank are under the purview of the Defense Ministry, while those killed within Israel proper are under the jurisdiction of the Public Security Ministry.
The issue has become a sore point with Palestinians. Posters of the dead are plastered on walls in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and residents hold frequent demonstrations calling for the release of the bodies.
Since October, 35 Israelis and four foreign nationals have been killed in a wave of Palestinian terrorism and violence. At least 214 Palestinians have been killed, some two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis, and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.
Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.