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PA honors dead terrorists in Ramallah ceremony
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
01/06/2012
Abbas presides over ceremony honoring 91 terrorist whose remains were returned by Israel in goodwill gesture.
 
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 “martyrs.”

The coffins carried the remains of 91 terrorists, several of whom were suicide bombers, who had been buried in a secret military cemetery in Israel.

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 said.

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 their martyrdom.”

Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Abbas, said in a eulogy that the “souls of the martyrs will continue to hover over us.”

Abdel Rahim said that as Palestinians see the bodies of the “martyrs laid in front of us, we remember our heroes in [Israeli prisons].”

He 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 stressed.

Following the ceremony, the bodies were delivered to their families for burial in military funerals in their hometowns.

Seventeen of the Palestinians were buried in Ramallah because they did not have families in the Palestinian territories, while another 12 were transferred to the Gaza Strip.
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