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New Facts on Captured Reservists' Condition

Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser

IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who was captured by the Hizbullah on July 12, apparently suffered serious-to-critical wounds. The IDF Censor approved the publication of those facts on Wendsday.

Parents of the kidnapped soldiers rage about remarks made by PM Olmert concerning their sons.

Hezbollah demads the release of Samir Kuntar, unit commander of the shocking "Haran Family Massacre" that took place in Nahariya in 1979.

Two months after the IDF Medical Corps investigation, some of it's findings were finaly released yesterday, shedding new light on the medical condition of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser since the kidnap.

According to the investigation report, one of the soldiers - it was unclear whether it was Regev or Goldwasser - was in critical condition following the attack. The other soldier was seriously wounded.

Up untill now, Hizbollah has refused to allow the Red Cross  to see the two men, though it was stated by Amnesty International secretary-general Irene Khan, that there was no indication from the Hezbollah that they are not alive.

 

PM Olmert's Remarks

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a group of high school students from the northern town of Nahariya, that Israel had pulled out of this summer's Lebanon war despite the fact that Goldwasser and Regev had not been rescued in order to save other soldiers' lives. "If Goldwasser and Regev were still alive," Olmert said, "it was better for them to remain captive a little while longer than for other soldiers to die in an attempt to rescue them."

Olmert's remarks attraced some angry reactions from Goldwasser's parents, impliying that Olmert should "talk less and do more" to secure the release of the kidnapped IDF reservists.

Eldad Regev's father, Benny, said that it was wrong of Olmert to "making light" of the fact that his son and Goldwasser were still held hostage.

"It wasn't right to talk about [their captivity] as 'one day more or less'," Regev told Army Radio.

Olmert said on Tuesday that the comments he made about the kidnapped IDF soldiers were misunderstood, and that he did not mean to imply that they were dead.

"From Israel's perspective, we believe they [the kidnapped soldiers] are still alive," Olmert told reporters.

 

Samir Kuntar: Background

Samir Kuntar

Hezbollah now demands the release of long-time prisoner Samir Kuntar in return for the release of captured Israeli soldiers.

Kuntar is a Lebanese Druze who belonged to the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), a pro-Iraqi organisation led by Abu Abbas. He participated in a terrorist attack on Israel in 1979 and has been held since in Israeli jails under a four-times-life sentence since his admitted conviction in 1979 on charges of murder and terrorism, for the killing of four Israelis, a twenty eight year-old man, his four year-old daughter, and two Israeli policemen.

On April 22, 1979, Samir Kuntar led a group of four who entered Israel from Lebanon by boat. The group members were Abdel Majeed Asslan, Mhanna Salim Al-Muayed and Ahmed AlAbras. The goal of the operation was to attack Nahariya, 10 kms away from the Lebanese border and 8 kms north of the city of Akko. The group called their operation the Nasser Operation.

Around midnight they arrived at the coastal town of Nahariya. The four killed a policeman who came across them. The group then entered a high building, where they parted into two groups. One group broke into the apartment of the Haran family before police reinforcements had arrived. The unit took twenty-eight-year old Danny Haran hostage along with his four-year-old daughter, Einat. The mother, Smadar Haran, was able to hide in a crawl space above the bedroom with her two-year-old daughter Yael, and a neighbour.

According to Smadar, "I will never forget the joy and the hatred in [Kuntar's group's] voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought."

After taking the hostages, Kuntar's group took Danny and Einat down to the beach, where a shootout with Israeli policemen and soldiers erupted. Samir Kuntar shot the father, Danny, at close range in front of his daughter in the back and drowned him in the sea to ensure he was dead. Next, he smashed the four year old girl's head, Einat, on beach rocks and crushed her skull with the butt of his rifle.

Back in the crawl space, Yael Haran was accidentally suffocated to death by her mother's attempts to quiet her whimpering from revealing their hideout, so that they would not be found by Kuntar's group.

A policeman and two of Samir Kuntar's unit were also killed in the shootout on the beach; Kuntar and the fourth participant were captured. The latter, Ahmed AlAbrass, was freed by Israel in the infamous Ahmed Jibril prisoner exchange deal of May 1985 (1,150 Arab political prisoners were exchanged for three Israeli prisoners-of-war held in Lebanon), but Kuntar was not included in the deal.

Several months later, the PLF seized the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship, demanding that Israel release Kuntar, along with other Palestinian prisoners. The hijackers killed a wheelchair-bound American Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer.

Proposed exchange for Ron Arad

In 2003 Israel agreed to release around 400 prisoners in exchange for businessman Elchanan Tenenbaum and the bodies of three soldiers held by Hezbollah since 2000. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah refused to accept the deal unless it included Samir Kuntar. "Hezbollah's conditions have become clear and defined, and we are sticking to them in all circumstances", Nasrallah declared in his statement.

Ron Arad

Israel then agreed to release Samir Kuntar as well, but only when Hezbollah provided "solid evidence" as to the fate of Ron Arad, an air force navigator missing in Lebanon since 1986.

Inspired by the prisoner swap Hamas vowed, a few days later, that they would also abduct Israeli soldiers to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Hassan Nasrallah simultaneously told his supporters that Hezbollah would continue to kidnap Israelis until "not a single prisoner" remained inside Israeli jails.

Since Hezbollah never provided any solid information about Arad, Israel continues to hold Kuntar.

[Samir Kuntar entry from wikipedia]

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