Israel is to return the bodies of 84 Palestinian fighters killed in Israel since 1967. The deal, reached following extensive negotiations between Israel and Palestinian leaders, was announced by Palestinian Authority Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein Ash-Sheikh to Maan News on Monday. The bodies of 84 Palestinians killed in hostilities between Israel and Palestinian fighters since 1967 will be returned to the PA. The bodies have until now been kept in Israel in what Israel calls ‘enemy fighter cemeteries’.
Palestinian forensic experts are due to travel to the sites in order to identify the bodies which currently lie with no names, gravestone or other means of identification.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas will attend a farewell ceremony for the deceased before the bodies are returned to families. In cases where the families are abroad the PA will arrange for their transfer.
Ynet claims that the transfer of the bodies is unlikely to be related to an exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit but an Israeli gesture ahead of Ramadan.
The cemeteries which the bodies are currently kept in are referred to as ‘cemeteries of numbers’ by Palestinians, referring to the numbers used to identify the grave plots. Palestinians say the graves are often shallow and made of sand making them vulnerable to damage from weather.