Friends mark two years since kidnapping

Group gathers at place where Hizbullah captured soldiers; Miki Goldwasser: Uncertainty is horrible.

Regev Goldwasser 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Regev Goldwasser 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Two years since the capture of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser by Hizbullah and days before an exchange is scheduled to take place, their parents are anxious and their friends are angry with the government, which they accuse of drawing out negotiations for far too long. "The uncertainty is horrible. I want to know the date and the moment. I still believe I will be able to hug Udi," Miki Goldwasser, the mother of Ehud Goldwasser, told his friends on Saturday morning. Earlier, at exactly 9:04 a.m., Ehud's friends marked two years since he was taken at the site of the kidnapping, near Moshav Zar'it on the Lebanese border. Goldwasser's mother spoke to his friends about the exchange that is scheduled to take place in the next week or two, in which Palestine Liberation Front murderer Samir Kuntar, four Hizbullah terrorists and 190 bodies of Hizbullah guerrillas will return to Lebanon in exchange for the two abducted IDF reservists and a report on IAF navigator Ron Arad, captured alive in Lebanon in 1986 "We are extremely tense and nervous. It is really hard to handle this pressure. I really hope this week will end with no more obstacles in the way of the [swap] deal and I hope two years of nightmare will come to an end," Miki Goldwasser said. Shlomo Goldwasser, Ehud's father, said they did not see any special meaning in the second anniversary. "As far as we are concerned, everyday is the same. It doesn't matter if it is the second day since the capture or the second year. Ending this affair is also a national interest, and not just a private matter for our family. It is very important for the entire nation of Israel to see an end to this affair, unlike the Ron Arad case, which hasn't gotten closure," Shlomo said. Ehud Goldwasser's and Eldad Regev's friends came to their parents' homes in Nahariya and Kiryat Motzkin, respectively, right after the gathering at the abduction site. "I don't ask myself whether I should continue to fulfill my duty in IDF reserve service, but now I do it with no certainty that I will be rescued if something goes wrong," Yair Haran, 35, a father of one from Bethlehem Hagalilit and a member of Goldwasser and Regev's company, told The Jerusalem Post at the scene of the kidnapping. "We came here this morning to remind everyone that we haven't forgotten and that we won't rest until the soldiers are back home," said Avi Lipschitz, 42, from Mitzpe Matat in the Galilee. "We need to pay whatever price it takes in exchange for any captive soldier. This is what we were raised on, this is the government's duty and this is part of being a soldier in the IDF," said Lipschitz, a friend of the commanders of Goldwasser and Regev's unit. "Every time I come here I shiver because this spot is exactly where the families' nightmare began and where we decided to start the fight and to make sure there would be no Israeli who doesn't know who Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are," said Miki Leibowitz, the coordinator of the public campaign for the kidnapped soldiers. "Unfortunately, a series of [media] spins and inappropriate conduct from the government brought us to where we are today." Leibowitz said the friends would also stand by the captured soldiers' families after they were returned. "We will continue to struggle for the release of Gilad Schalit, who has sat for too long in dark basements. We will make sure the government is aware of its duty to do anything in its power to bring back the soldiers, because soldiers shall not be abandoned," she said. Then, three soldiers who on Saturday happened to be patrolling the same road that Regev, Goldwasser and their friends were patrolling on the morning of July 12, 2006, stopped their IDF jeep to speak to the captured soldiers' friends. Yes, they know exactly what happened there and no, they are not afraid. "The lessons from this case have been learned, and fear will not help us perform our mission, but I still don't tell my mother where I am. She would freak out," one of the soldiers told the Post.