The Israeli government voted today to release Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, alongside other prisoners both alive and dead, and hand them over to Hezbollah. In exchange, Israel will get the remains of Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. I say the remains because Israel’s government now claims that the two are most likely dead.
It is a testimony to Israel’s standards and the IDF’s commitment to its soldiers that such a high price is being paid for the bodies of two dead soldiers rather than two live soldiers. it is also not the first time–and sadly, probably it won’t be the last. But the deal raises some troublesome questions.
When did the government know that the two soldiers were in all likelihood dead? Was it immediately after Hezbollah’s incursion into Israeli territory, on July 12, 2006? If so, the government launched a military campaign of 33 days, that cost the lives of over 130 Israelis, in order to rescue the dead bodies of two. Some explaining is in order, if that is the case.
Did the government find out aout their fate after the war was over? If so, how long ago? According to Ehud’s father, “There have been assessments for a long time,” “But none of this matters because it is not fact . . . They were alive when they were kidnapped and no one has provided us with evidence to the contrary.” The government now seems to think that this is not so, but has not provided the evidence.
Why now? If the evidence is conclusive, should the families not know for sure? Shouldn’t the nation as well, given the price exacted in return? And should it not be the case that Israel should demand more, not less, of Hezbollah, now that its captives are dead?
After all, Israel’s government has decided to return a monster like Kuntar, who killed an infant girl and her four-year-old sister in a brutal act of sadism after having slaughtered their father. At a minimum, Israel’s government should have told Israelis why two dead soldiers (for whose sake more than a hundred died) are now being exchanged for this criminal.