Palestinian Authority leaders gathered in the Mukata presidential compound in
Ramallah on Thursday to honor the memory of dozens of Palestinians whose bodies
were handed over by Israel earlier in the day.
Presidential guards fired
a 21- gun salute as policemen in full uniform carried the coffins, draped in
Palestinian flags, to the compound.
Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas, who presided over the ceremony, laid wreathes on the coffins as
senior officials and a guard of honor lined up to bid farewell to the
The coffins carried the remains of 91 terrorists, several of
whom were suicide bombers, who had been buried in a secret military cemetery in
The repatriation of the bodies is part of an Israeli goodwill
gesture to Abbas.
The ceremony in Ramallah also included a special prayer
for the Palestinians in keeping with Islamic tradition. The prayer was led by
the PA’s mufti, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein.
Mervat al-Zaul, whose husband,
Muhammad, carried out a suicide attack in Jerusalem in 2004, said she was both
relieved and sad.
“This is a sad day for us, but at the same time we are
also relieved because Muhammad will be buried close to us,” she
Ziad Abu Ein, a top member of Fatah, said it was a “day of victory”
for Palestinians. He also urged Israel to hand back the remains of other
Palestinians who are buried in Israel.
Hailing the dead Palestinians as
“martyrs,” Hussein said that the PA leadership had gathered “today to celebrate
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Abbas, said in a
eulogy that the “souls of the martyrs will continue to hover over
Abdel Rahim said that as Palestinians see the bodies of the “martyrs
laid in front of us, we remember our heroes in [Israeli prisons].”
said that Abbas and the PA leadership were making efforts to secure the release
of all detainees.
“There will be no peace agreement until all our
prisoners and detainees are released from occupation prisons,” Abdel Rahim
Following the ceremony, the bodies were delivered to their
families for burial in military funerals in their hometowns.
the Palestinians were buried in Ramallah because they did not have families in
the Palestinian territories, while another 12 were transferred to the Gaza