In an operation described as a race against time, the Israeli Combat Engineering Corps retrieved the bodies of five Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement members from a tunnel its jets had destroyed last week.
An Israeli spokesperson said that the army will not hand the bodies to Palestinian authorities.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Monday that he opposes returning them without receiving something return.
Last week, Israel destroyed the Gaza Strip tunnel, which turned out to be dug by the Islamic Jihad. The tunnel extended beyond the border near Khan Younes, reaching deep into Israeli territory.
The Palestinian Hamas movement requested the permission to search for the bodies, but Israel rejected it. It instead conditioned that Hamas return the bodies of two Israeli soldiers that have been held by the movement since the war on Gaza in 2014.
Subsequently, Israeli rights groups submitted to the Supreme Court of Israel a request to release the Palestinian bodies out of humanitarian considerations.
Netanyahu, as he concluded his visit to UK, said that the government is tasked with achieving two major missions: first to defend the country and second to build it.
Hamas pokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that held bodies prove that Israel has failed in its bet to get back its soldiers.
Jihad spokesman Ahmed al-Modallal vowed: “We will find a way to get them back.”