Prisoner swap between Israel and Hizballah close

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 |  staff writer

Israel appears to be close to a prisoner swap with Hizballah which would release the two reservists, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, kidnapped shortly before the Second Lebanon War - or their bodies, since no proof of life has been offered.

In exchange, six Lebanese prisoners held in Israel, including the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar who killed three members of an Israeli family and a policeman in cold blood, and the bodies of 10 Hizballah fighters would be returned to Lebanon. Hizbaah chief Hassan Nasrallah announced that “very soon Samir Kuntar and his brothers will be among us.”

The negotiations with Hezbollah have been held through a German mediator. The offer does not include the release of Palestinian prisoners, suggesting that Israeli officials do not believe that the two abducted soldiers are alive, even though officially they have not been declared dead.

Despite the report of progress, some security officials caution putting faith in Nasrallah’s statements. Still at issue is information on the fate of Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad, missing since his plane went down over Lebanon in 1986.

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