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Trying to restart peace talks, Israel returns Palestinian militants remains

The Israeli government turned over the remains of over 90 Palestinian militants on Thursday. The militants had been killed trying to carry out attacks on Israeli targets, some dating back over 30 years.

Palestinians gather as a convoy transferring coffins containing the remains of the bodies of Palestinian militants, enters near Erez Crossing between Israel and northern Gaza Strip May 31, 2012. The remains of 91 Palestinian militants whose attacks killed hundreds of Israelis were returned to the West Bank and Gaza on Thursday in a gesture Israel said it hoped could help revive peace efforts.

Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/REUTERS

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Israel on Thursday handed over to the Palestinian government the remains of 91 militants, including suicide bombers, in an effort to induce Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to renew long-stalled peace talks.

All 91 were killed carrying out attacks on Israeli targets, Palestinian officials said. At least one of the attacks dated back to the 1970s.

The bodies had been buried in coffins in Israel and were dug up for the transfer. The Palestinian official in charge of Thursday's transfer, Salem Khileh, said Israeli officials handed over the remains to Palestinian liaisons in the Jordan Valley.

Seventy-nine bodies were then transported to Ramallah, and 12 to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Dozens of armed Islamic Jihad fighters and families holding framed pictures of their dead relatives welcomed the 12 coffins as they entered Gaza, draped with Palestinian national flags.

Women ululated, and threw rice and sugar over the coffins. Hamas police officers fired 21 shots into the air in salute.

Two armed men, clad in black uniforms and bandanas, kissed the forehead of a suicide bomber's mother as the vehicle carrying his body arrived. Her 21-year-old son, Ramzi Obaied of Islamic Jihad, killed 24 Israelis in a 1996 attack in Tel Aviv.


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