'Regev, Goldwasser were killed by Israeli bombardment'

Hezbollah official, Lebanese minister say IDF soldiers' captors "took every precaution to avoid them being killed" but IDF rockets led to deaths in 2006 on Lebanon border.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
October 5, 2011 10:41
1 minute read.
regev, goldwasser coffins

regev, goldwasser coffins. (photo credit: IDF)

Two IDF soldiers whose capture by Hezbollah in 2006 sparked the Second Lebanon War and whose bodies were returned to Israel two years later were killed by Israeli bombardment, a Lebanese minister said on Wednesday.

Hezbollah handed over the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in a prisoner exchange but never said how they died. Israeli officials said they were badly wounded when they were captured by the Shi'ite terrorist group in a cross-border raid.

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Lebanese Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, publishing his memoirs of the 2006 war in Lebanon's al-Safir newspaper, quoted a Hezbollah official as saying the two soldiers were killed by Israeli bombing.

"There is another subject which only a very few brothers know about, and which no one other than us will know about later," he quoted Hussein al-Khalil as saying on August 3, 2006, roughly half-way through the conflict.

He said the soldiers' captors had taken every precaution to avoid them being killed "but the expansion (of the area) of the bombardment and the use of big rockets...led to this."

"...It's ironic, Israel kills the prisoners on whose behalf it declared war. From our part, we will continue the battle of negotiations as if nothing had happened," the minister quoted Hussein al-Khalil as saying.

The bodies of the two IDF soldiers were exchanged in July 2008 in a prisoner swap for five Lebanese prisoners held by Israel.

Among the released captives was Samir Kuntar, who had been Israel's longest-serving prisoner and whom Israelis revile for his part in a 1979 Palestinian terrorist attack.

The exchange had been a difficult decision for the government and
President Shmon Peres had authorized Kuntar's release with a heavy heart and the stipulation that he would neither forgive nor forget the terrorist's brutal killings, or the fact that he had never expressed remorse.
Kuntar had crushed the skull of four-year-old Einat HarTan and shot her father in cold blood.

The event was notorious for scenes of weeping in Israel and the hero's welcome Kuntar received in Lebanon.

Yaakov Katz and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report


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