Jerusalem to withold bodies in Gaza dispute
THE Israeli military has said it will not return the bodies of two Palestinian gunmen killed in Friday’s clashes until Hamas frees two Israeli citizens being held in Gaza as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 war.
Gen Yoav Mordechai said that Israel was holding the corpses of two Hamas fighters killed on Friday as well as the bodies of 24 other Palestinians.
“Israel will not be silent and the residents of Gaza will not know peace until the Israelis are returned and our soldiers are brought to burial in Israel,” he said. “There is a shared value for Judaism and Islam of burying the dead.”
The death toll from Friday’s clashes rose to 17 after Faris al-raqib, 29, a fighter from Palestinian Islamic Jihad succumbed to gunshot wounds.
The Islamist group has been holding the bodies of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul since 2014 and two mentally unwell Israeli civilians – Abera Mengistu, an Ethiopian-israeli, and Hisham al-sayed, a Bedouin-israeli – are also believed to be held after they had crossed over into Gaza.
Human rights groups have condemned both sides for holding corpses.
Israel and the Palestinians are bracing themselves for fresh confrontations in Gaza this Friday, the traditional day of protest in the Arab world.
“The Palestinian people are determined to continue the Great March of Return, to free the land and move towards occupied Jerusalem, and they are not concerned by all the sacrifices,” said Khalil al-hayya, a Hamas leader.
Protesters in Khan Yunis, Gaza, hold up a mirror as they demonstrate to demand the right of Palestinians refugees to return and the removal of Israel’s blockade on the enclave