Gov't fears for fate of abductees

Pessimism on Regev, Goldwasser stems from Nasrallah's claims he has body parts of IDF troops.

Regev Goldwasser 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Regev Goldwasser 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
There is growing pessimism in the Israeli defense establishment concerning the fate of the two IDF reservists, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were kidnapped by Hizbullah in July 2006. Recent speeches delivered by Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah have led to the increase in pessimism, particularly claims he has made of being in possession of body parts of Israeli soldiers. This interpretation of Nasrallah's speeches is purely an assessment. The defense establishment continues to work for the soldiers' release based on the assumption that they are alive. One such speech was in January, when Nasrallah appeared in public for the first time since September 2006, warning Israel against attacking Lebanon and claiming that Hizbullah has a near-complete body of an IDF soldier killed during the Second Lebanon War, as well as the body parts of other soldiers. On Monday, the Lebanese paper an-Nahar reported that Israel was not interested in a prisoner swap with Hizbullah since it had reached the conclusion that Goldwasser and Regev were no longer alive. The paper quoted a source in a pro-Israeli US organization who said that Hizbullah's price was too high. At the same time, talks between Israel and Hamas concerning the release of Cpl. Gilad Schalit have broken down in recent weeks, leaving Israel without access to the soldier's captors. Israel has been holding talks with Hamas via Egypt as well as other Arab countries. The talks, however, fell apart last month following the large-scale IDF operation in Gaza and have yet to be renewed. There is hope that the talks will be renewed in the near future. Damascus-based Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal recently blamed Israel for freezing the talks. The current status of the negotiations centers on the identities of the prisoners Hamas has asked be released in exchange for Schalit. A ministerial committee led by Haim Ramon decided several months ago to redefine the "blood on hands" concept concerning security detainees, paving the way to release Palestinians who have been convicted of killing Israelis.