Karnit Goldwasser: 'A terrible day'

IDF chief rabbi set to decide Tuesday whether to declare Goldwasser and Regev killed in action.

Regev Goldwasser 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Regev Goldwasser 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Karnit Goldwasser, wife of kidnapped IDF reservist Ehud Goldwasser, reacted with fury to news Monday evening that OC Chaplaincy Corps Rabbi Avichai Ronsky is sifting through evidence to determine whether her husband and Eldad Regev should be declared killed in action. "It is a terrible and humiliating day for Israel," she said to Channel 2. "I want the country to bring [Goldwasser and Regev] home, but I doubt that it will happen." Goldwasser said that she heard the IDF's announcement on the news, and that she was "boiling with rage." "Is it not hard enough for us? Have we gone through two years of fun?" she asked. According to an IDF statement, Ronsky will decide if the captives can be declared dead according to the standards set by halacha, Jewish law. The IDF chaplain is the only official who can determine this. No timetable has been set for the completion of the process. Ronsky began his work on Monday night after receiving all the intelligence information that has been gathered since the two men were captured by Hizbullah while patrolling Israel's northern border in July 2006. Since that time, there has been no sign of life from them. A declaration of death would force the government to rethink the format of a deal now under negotiation with Hizbullah, according to defense officials. One of the changes would likely be Israel's refusal to release Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, according to the prevailing belief that he should only be traded if the two men are alive. The move came as a surprise to Regev's father, Tzvi, who heard about it while he was on his way home to Kiryat Motzkin on the outskirts of Haifa after spending two days lobbying politicians in Jerusalem along with members of the Goldwasser family . "It's not right to do this. But I have no control over the army," he said. Should they make such a determination, it should be based on air-tight evidence, Tzvi said. To date, however, no such evidence has materialized. He and the Goldwassers remain convinced that their sons are alive. Last Thursday, Goldwasser's mother, Miki, penned an emotional letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which she recalled the story of IDF soldier Hezi Shai who was captured during the First Lebanon War. He was returned alive in 1985 after his family had been told they should mourn him by sitting shiva. On Sunday and Monday the Goldwasser and Regev families lobbied ministers to support a swap that included Kuntar. They arrived as the nation's attention had been riveted to their plight for more than a week after it appeared that a deal was imminent. However, news of an additional Hizbullah demand Sunday for the release of Palestinians appeared to gum up the works. The families, who met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak last Friday, have sought an additional meeting. They are also looking to meet with Olmert. Miki Goldwasser told The Jerusalem Post: "We have a feeling that Olmert is afraid to make a deal for some reason." Among those who spoke out against a deal with Hizbullah on Monday was former IDF chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen (res.) Moshe Ya'alon. "In some situations we need to agree to make sacrifices in the face of what is demanded of us, because the price we would have to pay is far heavier than the price of losing a kidnapped soldier," he said, referencing not just the cases of Goldwasser and Regev, but also that of Gilad Schalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006. Referring specifically to Schalit, he said that "obviously, if we had the ability to release him through a [military] operation, as we have done in the past, then we should go for it. And I suppose that if we could do so, it would have already been done." When Ya'alon was the chief of staff, in 2003, he supported an exchange deal with Hizbullah in which Israel received the bodies of soldiers Adi Avitan, Binyamin Avraham and Omar Sawaid, as well as civilian Elhanan Tennenbaum, in return for 430 Lebanese, Palestinian and other Arab prisoners. Ya'alon said then that "the price is reasonable." Israel rejected Hizbullah's demanded to release Kuntar as part of that deal. In Miki Goldwasser's letter to Olmert, she told the prime minister that had Kuntar been released in that prisoner swap, Hizbullah would not have kidnapped her son and Regev. She warned that failure to release him would only lead to more kidnappings, as Hizbullah would not rest until Kuntar was returned. On Tuesday evening Noam and his wife Aviva as well as their family and supporters plan to hold a rally opposite the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem. On Wednesday, they have organized an event in their home town of Mitzpe Hila in the upper Galilee to mark two years since Gilad's kidnapping. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.