DHAKA: Israel has handed over to the Palestinian Authority the remains of 91 Palestinians who died carrying out attacks against Israel.
The remains include suicide bombers and militants who died in operations as far back as 1975.
The repatriation of the bodies forms part of a deal to end a mass hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Israeli officials say the transfer is a confidence-building gesture, reports BBC.
Coffins containing the remains, which had been interred in numbered graves in an Israeli military cemetery for ‘enemy combatants’, were handed over at dawn.
The head of the Palestinian general committee for civil affairs said 79 had been transferred to Ramallah, and 12 taken to Gaza.
Special ceremonies will be held later, before the bodies are buried again.
According to Israeli media, Hamas will hold a full military service for the remains in Gaza, with each coffin receiving a 21-gun salute.
They will then be shuttled to various towns for burial.
In Ramallah, rows of coffins have been draped in Palestinian flags outside President Abbas’s compound ahead of a ceremony later today.
The dead are considered martyrs by Palestinians, but terrorists by Israelis, and their remains are used as bargaining chips, he says.
Earlier this month Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails agreed to end a mass hunger strike, which had been going on for more than two months.
More than 1,500 Palestinians had been refusing food to demand an improvement in conditions.
There were fears of a violent Palestinian backlash, had any of the inmates died.
BDST: 1735 HRS, MAY 31, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor
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