Israel’s Diplomatic-Security cabinet on Sunday decided not to return the bodies of Hamas fighters killed while carrying out attacks, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
The cabinet discussed ways to put pressure on Hamas to return the remains of two Israeli soldiers and another two Israeli citizens held by the Palestinian group in Gaza.
“The cabinet members announced a new policy in which the bodies of Hamas fighters will not be returned to their families, but they will be buried in graveyards by the Israeli authorities,” the statement read.
“The decision came as a way of pressure to retrieve the bodies of the Israeli soldiers,” the statement added.
The Israeli authorities have been holding many bodies belonging to Palestinians killed for allegedly carrying out stabbing, ramming and shooting attacks against Israelis since October 2015.
On April 2014, the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, said it was holding four Israeli soldiers, without revealing if they were alive or dead.
The Israeli government said Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and their remains remain held by Hamas in Gaza.
Israel’s Defense Ministry later decided to define them as “missing in action or captive”.
Israel’s 2014 onslaught against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip left some 2,150 Palestinians dead and thousands of others injured — mostly civilians — while leaving much of the enclave’s vital infrastructure in ruins.
According to Israeli figures, at least 70 Israelis — 65 soldiers and five civilians — were killed during the conflict.