Report: Israel-Hizballah prisoner exchange imminent

Monday, June 16, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Arab media reported on Monday that Israel and Lebanon's Hizballah terrorist militia are very close to an agreement that would see two captured Israeli soldiers freed in exchange for Lebanese terrorist who has been jailed in Israel since 1979.

The father of one of the captured Israeli soldiers confirmed for Israel Radio that the government had told him a prisoner swap was about to take place. Hizballah officials refused to comment on the reports.

Israeli army reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were nabbed by Hizballah in a brash cross-border raid in July of 2006 that led to the bloody 34-day Second Lebanon War. Israel has ever since been working via German mediators to secure their release.

Initially, Israel refused to even consider Hizballah's demand that it free jailed terrorist Samir Kuntar in return for the soldiers' freedom. Kuntar, who has gained celebrity status in Lebanon, infiltrated northern Israel with a team of four gunmen in 1979. The terrorists proceeded to the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya, where they killed a police officer before entering the home of a local Israeli family. Kuntar took the father and his four-year-old daughter down to the nearby beach where he crushed the girl's skull in front of her horrified father before shooting him in the chest. The family's other child was also killed in the attack when the mother accidentally smothered her as they hid terrified in a closet.

Kuntar has since said he remains proud of the brutal murders he committed.

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