JERUSALEM, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Israel decided on Sunday not to return bodies of Palestinian assailants associated with Hamas to their families but to bury them in Israel.
A statement released by the Prime Minister's Office said the measure is part of efforts to retrieve the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in Israel's offensive in Gaza in 2014. The bodies are believed to be held by Hamas, the Islamist organization which controls the Gaza Strip.
The cabinet is also drafting a plan to return two missing civilians, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who have crossed into Gaza and are believed to be held there.
According to the statement, bodies of Palestinian members of Hamas will be buried in a designated burial site in Israel.
Israel has been using the practice of withholding dozens of bodies of Palestinian attackers during the 16-month-long Palestinian unrest. Following a petition to the Supreme Court, many of the corpses were returned, but a few are still kept in Israel.
Palestinians and human rights organizations have been criticizing the withholding of corpses, saying it violates the rights of the families to bury their loved ones and fans further unrest among Palestinians.