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Israeli court: Palestinians can bury Jenin dead

Army, rights groups agree to plan at refugee camp

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday dismissed a case that sought to bar the Israel Defense Forces from burying Palestinian victims at the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

The court said the two sides had agreed on a plan that will allow the army to gather, evacuate and identify the bodies -- with the help of the International Red Cross, and in some cases the Palestine Red Crescent Society and local Palestinian officials.

No distinction will be made between gunmen and civilians killed in the camp, the court said.

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Palestinians will be given the opportunity to bury their dead, but if there is a delay, then the army will carry out the burials, the court said.

The court issued an injunction Friday night blocking burials after two Israeli Arab members of the Knesset and two human rights groups filed a petition.

Palestinian Authority officials have said that Israel killed more than 500 Palestinians at the camp and buried many of them in mass graves. Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Sunday the number was "dozens," not hundreds, and said most of those killed were gunmen.

An IDF spokesman rejected the allegations that there had been burials in mass graves. "The IDF has no intention to bury the dead in mass graves, but in an orderly manner and in coordination with the local authorities," he said.

The IDF said some of its officers and Palestinians it had authorized to enter the camp had begun to pick up and tag bodies for identification by families. But that activity was stopped Friday night after the court issued its order, the IDF said.

In filings before the court, the Israeli attorney general's office said no bodies had been buried and none would be until Sunday.

In filings from the Knesset members and humanitarian organizations, witnesses said they saw the army burying bodies.




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