Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack has prevented the transfer of 84 bodies of Palestinians killed since 1967, then buried in unmarked graves in Israel. Barack made his decision after a report emerged that two of the bodies due to be transferred were those of the Awadallah brothers, two Hamas fighters. The bodies of the Awadallah brothers were part of negotiations for the return of captured Israel soldier Gilad Shalit.Ehud Barack halted the transfer of the remains, despite the fact that the Israeli military and Prime Minister had approved the deal.

A spokesperson for Barack said, ‘This was done in order to look into and ensure that there will be no discussion into handing over bodies that should not be transferred due to considerations pertaining to Gilad Shalit’s release or other considerations.’

The Awadallah brothers were killed in Hebron in 1998. Israel initially ruled out any transfer of the bodies, but changed its stance after Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian fighters from an Israeli military base in Gaza in 2006.

PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein a-Sheikh, in an interview with the Ma’an News Agency, claimed that Israel held 102 bodies of Palestinians, and that the agreement to transfer the 84 bodies were part of a larger deal.