The bodies of two terrorists who carried out a deadly attack at a Jerusalem synagogue in November will be returned to their families by the end of this week, Palestinian media reported Wednesday.
The Israeli government has been withholding the bodies of cousins Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal, who were shot dead by police after killing four worshipers and a cop in an attack during morning services on November 18.
Under an Israeli court order, the two terrorists will be buried in the West Bank and not in Jerusalem, where they resided, and only 40 people will be allowed to attend the funeral, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.
It was not immediately clear why Israel had decided to release the bodies, which it had been holding as a punitive measure.
The Abu Jamal cousins stormed a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood on the morning of November 18, killing Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalman Levine and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg. Zidan Saif, a policeman, was critically injured in a gunfire exchange with the terrorists, and later succumbed to his wounds, bringing the death toll to five.
A video published by an Israeli-Arab news site showed the mother of Uday Abu Jamal praising her son and his accomplice for his actions two days after the attack, according to an Israel-based media watchdog.
Following the attack, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan canceled the residency permit of Ghassan Abu Jamal’s widow and stripped her of any financial or social benefits.
Nadia Abu Jamal, a native of the West Bank, had been granted entry to Israel on the basis of the “family reunification law,” which allows for Palestinians to receive Israeli residency permits if they marry a permanent resident of Israel.
The families of the Abu Jamal cousins, both residents of East Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, were reported to have receive demolition orders for their homes. However, the structures have yet to be razed.
Later, the three children of Abu Jamal, who were all born in Jerusalem and live in the city’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, were denied health insurance by the National Insurance Institute, the Israeli equivalent of US Social Security.
The denial of health insurance coverage for Abu Jamal’s children was reportedly unrelated to the deportation of their mother, as the National Insurance Institute apparently initiated the move without consulting other government officials.
The institute emphasized that its step was not meant as punitive action against the Abu Jamal family, but rather that following the death of the father, the children’s residency permits had automatically expired due to the fact that their mother was not a permanent Israeli resident.
However, according to the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, an Israeli human rights group, no other such cases have been recorded in the past, Haaretz reported.
The moves by the NII and Erdan came on the heels of increased Israeli efforts to deter potential terrorists by stepping up action against the families of Palestinian operatives, including renewing the controversial practice of home demolitions.
Marissa Newsman and AFP contributed to this report.