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Israel holding bodies of Palestinian militants killed in Gaza tunnel blast Open in fullscreen

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Israel holding bodies of Palestinian militants killed in Gaza tunnel blast

At least 12 Palestinians were killed after Israel destroyed a tunnel in Gaza. [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 November, 2017

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Israel is holding the bodies of five Palestinian militants found after its army blew up a tunnel last week stretching from the Gaza Strip into its territory.

Israel is holding the bodies of five Palestinian militants found after its army blew up a tunnel last week stretching from the Gaza Strip into its territory.

At least twelve Palestinians were killed in an explosion on 30 October after the Israeli army destroyed a tunnel, which it said was in the process of being dug from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, which borders Israel.

Two of the dead belonged to the military wing of Hamas, with the other 10 from Islamic Jihad.

"We are indeed in possession of those bodies of five terrorists," Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told AFP.

"All were killed or died inside Israeli territory, not in the Gaza Strip".

Israel did not say what conditions it would place on the return of the bodies, but public radio said information would be sought on Israelis missing in Gaza.

Since Monday's explosion, Israel has refused to allow the Palestinian Civil Defence Authority access to the site to search for survivors.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had asked Israel to enable searches in the tunnel.

The remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war are thought to still be in the Gaza Strip while three Israeli civilians are also believed to be held, all said to have mental health issues.

In 2011 Israel freed more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier who had been held captive for five years.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade, while Egypt has also kept its border with the Palestinian enclave largely closed in recent years.

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