Ministers challenge Supreme Court on return of terrorists’ bodies
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Ministers challenge Supreme Court on return of terrorists’ bodies

Government calls court ruling that Israel can't hold remains of assailants without new legislation 'unacceptable'

Mourners carry the body of Mohammed Aqal, a Palestinian assailant killed after carrying out a stabbing attack on a Border Police officer, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Beit Ula on December 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/ Hazem Bader)
Mourners carry the body of Mohammed Aqal, a Palestinian assailant killed after carrying out a stabbing attack on a Border Police officer, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Beit Ula on December 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/ Hazem Bader)

Israeli ministers on Monday challenged a Supreme Court ruling that the bodies of Palestinians killed carrying out terror attacks must be released for burial and not used as bargaining chips.

A government statement said members of the security cabinet decided Thursday’s ruling by Israel’s highest court was “unacceptable” and asked it to hold a fresh hearing on the issue.

The government announced last year it would not return bodies unless Hamas, the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, agreed to release the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed during the 2014 Gaza war.

Last week, responding to a motion filed by families of nine Palestinians, the court said Israeli law does not allow the bodies to be held, but gave the government six months to enact new legislation or hand the corpses to their families.

Monday’s meeting of senior ministers turned down both options.

“Ministers made it clear that the bodies of the terrorists would not be returned and that the principles set out in the majority opinion of the judges were unacceptable,” the government statement said.

“Legislative proceedings will not be advanced at this stage,” until the court responds to the demand for a new hearing, it added.

The issue gained fresh traction last month when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled that Israel would not repatriate the bodies of five Islamic Jihad terrorists killed when the army blew up a tunnel stretching from Gaza Strip into southern Israel.

“We have a simple rule: Whoever attacks us, we attack them. Secondly, we don’t give free gifts,” he said.

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