JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will not return the bodies of Palestinian terrorists to their families under a policy change ordered by its new defense minister.
Naftali Bennett, who assumed his position earlier this month, announced the decision on Wednesday.
Previously, the release of a body either immediately or at all depended on concerns over violence breaking out at a funeral, to which terror group the dead man belonged or what kind of attack he committed.
Under the new rules, exceptions will be made only in very special circumstances and at the order of the defense minister.
The policy change, one of several that will be presented to the Security Cabinet for its required approval, came at the suggestion of the parents of Israeli soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin, whose body has been held in Gaza by Hamas for five years, according to Israeli reports citing unnamed diplomatic officials. Hamas also holds the remains of another soldier, Sgt. Oron Shaul.
Their bodies were taken by the terrorist group, which controls Gaza, during the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas also is believed to hold two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the move, saying it proves that Israel is a “terrorist entity.”