UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met on Tuesday with the families of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev and promised that he will keep working hard to seek their release. Ban told relatives of the two IDF reservists seized by Hizbullah in northern Israel at the start of last year's Lebanon war that he had been working with a secret "facilitator" chosen by his predecessor, Kofi Annan, to help win their release and was not giving up, UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.
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"The UN strongly hopes for their release," she said.
Goldwasser's wife and Regev's brother met reporters afterwards and appealed to Hizbullah to provide information about their condition after almost eight months without a single word.
"For us, the family, this is the worst time in our lives," Karnit Goldwasser said. "We know that they got injured, but we don't know if a doctor got to see them."
Hizbullah has not released any details on the condition of the soldiers or provided any sign they are still alive since they seized the pair in a July 12 cross-border raid that sparked the 34-day Israeli-Hizbullah conflict.
Regev's brother, Benny, said Ban did not provide any new information about their condition but told the families he is committed to keep working on the humanitarian problem "and try to solve it as soon as he can."
Goldwasser's wife called on Hizbullah to allow the Red Cross to visit the two soldiers.
"I think if the other side will be able to allow the Red Cross to go visit them, this will be, I think, the start of the end of this conflict," she said.
Karnit Goldwasser said the Israeli families had called on the families of Lebanese prisoners in Israel "to combine forces" to try to get their loved ones freed - "but unfortunately, they didn't have yet the ability to accept our calling."
"I think a wife, wherever in the world her husband is kidnapped, will feel like me - doesn't matter where she lives, in Israel, in Lebanon, if she's Jew, if she's a Muslim - ... because ... her loved one is not at home," Goldwasser's wife said.
The Israeli families know that to bring their loved ones home there will be a prisoner swap, but she said "for us it's very weird" that there are negotiations for information, with the Israelis not knowing what they will get.
Last week, the relatives met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.
"To see the Pope was very important for us because the pope is the highest religious person in the world for the Christians," Karnit Goldwasser said. "For us, it makes us stronger to know that we are not alone."