Fate of slain Palestinians fuels new feud with Israeli authorities
JERUSALEM — Israel is refusing to return the bodies of Palestinians killed during a month-old surge of violence unless the Palestinian side agrees to keep their funerals “modest,” the Israeli defense minister said Sunday.
In the latest incidents, a Palestinian tried to stab an Israeli soldier during disturbances near Hebron in the occupied West Bank on Sunday and was shot dead, the army said. That account could not immediately be confirmed independently.
Later in the afternoon at the same location, a driver rammed three Israeli paramilitary border policemen with his car before fleeing the scene, police said. The three, whose lives were not thought to be in danger, were taken to hospital.
Israel, which in the past has kept the bodies of slain militants as a punitive measure or to trade for the remains of its soldiers, has returned eight corpses of alleged Palestinian assailants for burial since last week.
Palestinian monitors say Israel is holding 21 bodies, a tally not immediately confirmed by Israeli officials.
The Israeli handovers have raised hackles among some rightists in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition and were acknowledged as a reversal of policy by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.
Briefing reporters, Yaalon said the security cabinet had initially intended to withhold the bodies but reassessed that because of the resentment it stirred among Palestinians.
On two occasions where Israel handed over bodies for burial, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's U.S.-backed administration “met our conditions” by ensuring the funerals were “modest family affairs, held at night,” Yaalon said.