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(photo credit: Channel 10)
As the families of kidnapped IDF soldiers Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev wait and hope for their safe return, the families of three soldiers abducted and killed by Hizbullah six years ago saw for the first time on Tuesday new video footage of their sons' abduction.
A Lebanese film documenting the negotiating process over the 2003 return of the three soldiers' bodies was aired Tuesday night on Channel 10 and showed never-before-seen footage released by Hizbullah of the actual kidnapping and of missing IAF navigator Ron Arad speaking to his captors, the first time his voice has been heard since he was taken hostage in 1986. The Arad video was first aired last week by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation.
During the film Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced that Hizbullah had received remains which were claimed to be Ron Arad's over the years.
"More than once we received bones which were claimed to be Ron Arad's. Forensic tests were performed in each of these cases, all returned with negative results," Nasrallah stated.
The detonation of a roadside bomb, followed by another bomb that blew a hole in the security fence, was how Hizbullah succeeded in kidnapping and killing the three soldiers in October 2000.
The footage, filmed by Hizbullah, shows how the unarmored jeep carrying Omar Sawayid, Benny Avraham and Adi Avitan drove up along the northern border fence until it was hit by a Hizbullah-planted bomb. Seconds later, Hizbullah gunmen are seen running to the gate, planting an explosive device and detonating it to open a passage for a 4x4 vehicle, which then crossed the border and picked up the three, seen being dragged into the car.
A total of three and a half minutes passed from the initial explosion until the Hizbullah car returned to Lebanon with the soldiers. According to the investigation of the attack, it took the IDF close to 20 minutes to send troops to the scene and another 20 minutes to dispatch helicopters to begin searching for the Hizbullah car.
The parents of the soldiers accused UNIFIL of cooperating with Hizbullah by filming the attack and then passing on the footage to the Lebanese producers who made the movie.
"From the movie, it is clear that the UN cooperated with the attack. We told this then to [UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan but he preferred to lie," said Haim Avraham, father of Benny. "Hizbullah did its best to erase any UN cooperation from the movie, but the UN's lies do become clear in the movie. They filmed the kidnapping and knew all along what was happening."
The parents also accused Hizbullah of murdering the soldiers in "cold blood," claiming that the footage from the movie showed that at least one of them was still alive following the bomb explosion, which until now was believed to have immediately killed all three.
"We saw the last moments of our children," Avraham said. "But what is clear is that they murdered our sons in cold blood following the kidnapping."
The IDF has said that the video did not shed new light on the Arad affair and did not contain any new information regarding his condition or whereabouts. The IDF, however, has admitted to not being familiar with the video until it was aired last week.
In the segment, Arad is seen smoking a cigarette and stating his parents' names. In heavily accented English he is seen saying, "I am a soldier in the Israeli army."
The second part of the video was expected to be screened on Channel 10 on Wednesday.