Last updated: 9 October, 2011

Israel hands over body of militant killed in 1976

Israel on Sunday handed over to the Palestinians the remains of a militant who was killed in clashes with the army in 1976, Palestinian security sources said.

The handover of the remains of Hafez Abu Zant took place at the Jaljulia crossing near the northwestern town of Qalqilya in the West Bank, they said.

“We received Hafez’s body and we will now transfer it to his family in Nablus, then to Rafidia hospital,” said Salem Khilleh, head of the Palestinian Campaign for the Recovery of War Victims’ Bodies.

He said the funeral would be held on Monday morning.

Abu Zant was killed on May 18, 1976 when he and two other gunmen from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) mounted an attack on Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley, known as the Lina Nabulsi operation.

During the raid, Abu Zant and the two other gunmen, Mashour Aruri and Khaled Abu Ziyad, were killed, and their bodies were kept by Israel.

Following years of legal wrangling, the body of Aruri was released last year.

The Israeli military could not immediately confirm details of the handover.

The DFLP issued a statement saying the release of Abu Zant’s body “marked the resolution of a national problem that has long plagued the martyrs’ families and NGOs working in the field of human rights.”

According to Issam Aruri, director of the Jerusalem Legal Aid Centre (JLAC), Israel is still holding the remains of 338 militants killed in combat, whose bodies are kept in numbered, rather than named, graves.