CBC.ca – January 12, 2007
Two captured Israeli soldiers are still alive, despite reports Hezbollah guerrillas had seriously wounded them and killed at least one in a July raid that inflamed a 34-day war, Lebanon's former president said in a report published Friday.
Israel's Maariv daily quoted President Amin Gemayel, as well as another Lebanese politician, assuring that the two kidnapped Israelis - Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser - survived the attacks.
"They are alive," the adviser accompanying Gemayel told the newspaper, when a reporter inquired about the soldiers' conditions.
Gemayel then confirmed the statement, and said he wished for Regev and Goldwasser to return home healthy, the report said. But there were no other details.
The comments come one month after an internal Israeli probe last December concluded one of the soldiers was in critical condition and the other seriously injured at the time they were captured.
The report raised the possibility that at least one of the Israelis had since died from his wounds.
At the time, Hezbollah did not give any indication Regev or Goldwasser were alive, nor did the group issue details of the men's conditions.
Following the daring July 12 cross-border raid in which the two Israelis were captured and three others killed by Hezbollah fire, Israel began attacking targets in southern Lebanon. The fighting soon erupted into a month-long war, with Hezbollah launching rockets at Israel.
By the time the United Nations brokered a ceasefire on Aug. 14, the fighting cost Israel 157 lives, most of them soldiers, and 1,183 casualties in Lebanon. Most of the casualties were civilians, with about a third of them children.
The UN has called on Hezbollah to release Israeli prisoners, but the Lebanese militant group has said it would only swap them for Lebanese soldiers jailed in Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said there would be no exchange of prisoners unless Hezbollah could ensure Regev and Goldwasser were alive.
Last updated 16/01/2007