Wednesday, July 16, 2008

5 Lebanese Prisoners Plus 199 Remains of Palestinian Fighters Swap for 2 Bodies of Israeli Soldiers

Hezbollah handed over the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, two captured Israeli soldiers, in return for five Lebanese prisoners and 199 militants' bodies, early Wednesday, July 16, 2008. The abduction of these two servicemen instigated the Israeli-Hezbollah fighting of 2006 in South Lebanon. This exchange marked the painful and closing chapter of the said Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon.

According to Lebanon's Al-Manar TV, as it quoted Wafik Safa, a senior Hezbollah official at the border as saying the bodies of these two soldiers were in a "mutilated" state sustained from injuries they suffered during the July 12, 2006 Israeli raid that lasted for 34 days which left more than 1,200 dead in Lebanon, majority of them were civilians, and about 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The Jewish state staged hundreds of airstrikes on various Lebanese targets yet, they failed to crush the guerrillas, sparking domestic criticism of Ehud Olmert’s government and the army. On the other hand, Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets on Israeli towns, in it drawing criticism at home as well for dragging the country to war.

For the Hezbollah and its supporters, it is a festive preparation for the return of Samir Kantar and the four other Lebanese prisoners. It is believe that this has promised to boost the radical Islamic militia. While for Israel, this is a sharp contrast to the sorrow that swept across the land with the images of the two simple black coffins taken out by Hezbollah guerillas from a black GMC van as it was seen on TV.

Samir Kantar, a Lebanese Druse was a convicted murderer of a policeman, Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter, thereby, also led to the death their second daughter – while Haran’s wife tried to stifle her cry by accidental smothering. He was pardoned by the Iraeli President Shimon Peres with the concurrence of his cabinet in order to facilitate Kantar’s release from prison who remain incarcerated since that deadly mission in 1979, finally consummating the prisoners exchange deal mediated by a German political negotiator appointed by the United Nations.

President Peres said on Tuesday, "It was not a happy day having to free Samir Kantar but we have a responsibility to bring our soldiers home."

Several questions may arise regarding this carefully choreographed swapping. Is it a fair deal between five live captives + 199 bodies against 2 Israeli corpses? What achievement will it reach in terms of Israeli-Lebanese relations? What kind and what level of victory did the Hezbollah movement achieve, as they claim? There might be some more, depending on how someone may perceive it.

Two coffins handed over to the Red Cross

Samir Kantar et al. left Israeli jail

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