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(photo credit: Adrian Korsner)
"I hope that after Udi [Ehud Goldwasser] returns he will agree to celebrate our anniversary twice a year - on the actual day and on the day of his release," said Karnit, wife of the kidnapped reservist. "I don't know if he will agree but I will ask him anyway," she said, speaking just ahead of what is meant to be their first wedding anniversary on Saturday.
"It is very difficult for me to be spending our first anniversary alone," Karnit Goldwasser told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. The couple, who met while they were studying at Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, married on October 14, 2005.
Ehud, 31, from Nahariya, and Elad Regev, 26, from Kiryat Motzkin, were captured by Hizbullah just south of the border with Lebanon on July 12. Karnit has been extremely active lobbying both the government and foreign officials for her husband's release.
A Channel 1 survey has found that 68.2 percent of Israelis do not believe the government is doing enough to free Goldwasser, Regev and Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who turned 20 while being held in the Gaza Strip.
Channel 1 commissioned the survey ahead of a program marking the 20th anniversary of the capture of IAF pilot Ron Arad, which was screened Thursday night. Arad was taken captive by the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group Amal on October 16, 1986, after he bailed out of his plane over Lebanon.
According to Yoram Cohen, editor for Channel 1 News and producer of the program, the biggest surprise that came out of the survey results was that more than 50% of respondents said the government "had not worked hard" to bring Arad back home. Only 9% of the 500 people questioned said the government had done all it could to free Arad.
"I am surprised that [the number disassatisfied with the government's efforts] is not much higher," countered Yoske Harari, chairman of the Fellowship for Ron Arad's Release. "The government did what it could but it was not enough to get him released."
"I don't know if the government has done enough to release the other soldiers either, but what I do know is that it did more for them than for Ron Arad. With Ron Arad, it did not send in an army to Lebanon. For Goldwasser and Regev, the army went in with all its might and, despite the risks, they did do something. The government took chances and lost more soldiers in its attempt to bring them back," he said.
According to the survey, 34.6% of Israelis believe the government should do "whatever is necessary" to free the soldiers, including trading Palestinian security prisoners, although 29.6% said these should not include terrorists with "blood on their hands."
Interviewees were also asked if they believe Arad is alive; 55% said no.
"I am not surprised by that result," said Harari. "But even if 99% of people think that he is not alive and 1% does, because of that 1% we have to continue with our search."