Ehud Barak 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Tarmoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday announced that no bodies of Hamas terrorists involved in serious attacks against Israeli citizens would be returned to the Palestinian Authority.
The statement mentioned specifically the bodies of ten members of Hamas, among them, those responsible for the Cafe Hillel attack in Jerusalem and the attack at the Stage Club in Tel Aviv.
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The defense minister added that the bodies of Gaza residents would not be returned either.
Earlier on Tuesday, Barak said that the transfer of Palestinian bodies to the Palestinian Authority was delayed over considerations for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit from Hamas captivity.
"I postponed the discussion over the transfer of bodies in order to ensure that we transfer the correct bodies, after considerations in regards to Schalit and other issues," Barak said at a IDF brigade-level exercise at the Ze'elim base in the South.
Barak decided to suspend all talks with the PA over the transfer of 84 bodies of deceased terrorists.
"We are looking into the issue, and we will see exactly how the the decision will play out," Barak continued. "I recommend not to react over-dramatically, discussions with the Palestinians are being held on a number of issues, one of them being the transfer of bodies which are [decomposing] in a field cemetery."
Barak added: "Soon enough, there won't be anything left to transfer. On the one hand, we must consider removing the bodies from the temporary cemetery and to transfer them to [the Palestinians]. On the other hand, we must verify who we are transferring the bodies to and to consider withholding certain parts."
"I had suspended the discussions on the transfer of bodies until we verify which bodies we will transfer," Barak said.
In response to the decision, Noam Schalit, father of Gilad Schalit, said that Israel has failed in negotiations with Hamas, in an interview with Army Radio.
"Israel does not need to take part in the 'trading of bodies,'" Schalit said. "The state of Israel has failed up to now, and has been incapable of exerting leverage on the Hamas organization. Not turning over the bodies will not pressure Hamas leaders in any significant way," he added.
On Monday, Israeli officials said that Israel would transfer the bodies of the Palestinians and other Arabs in the coming weeks as a gesture to PA Mahmoud Abbas.