Posted by: Lister | July 16, 2008

Prisoner Swap

Ya-Libnan says that Hezbollah is the main beneficiary of the deal:

Hezbollah named the swap “Radwan Operation,” after its slain military leader Imad Mughaniyeh, also known by the code-name of Hajj Radwan. Mughaniyeh, who was killed by a bomb in Damascus earlier this year, is believed to have masterminded the capture of the two Israeli soldiers being exchanged for the Hezbollah prisoners.

In the swap, mediated by a UN-appointed German diplomat, Israel was to free five Lebanese prisoners and return the bodies of 199 Lebanese and Arab fighters.

Hezbollah was to turn over Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, two soldiers captured in July 12, 2006 cross-border raid that sparked a devastating 33-day war with Israel.

The day was declared a national holiday by the Lebanese government. Ya-Labnan:

Today was declared by the government as a public holiday, to honor the liberation of the Lebanese detainees from Israeli jails and the return of the remains of the fighters that were killed in action. All the top leaders are expected to participate in this major event.

That page also gives a time-line of events, stating that the identity of the IDF soldiers has been confirmed by DNA tests. (By the Red Cross, I think, with the tests to be repeated by Israel.)

The Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah are dead. Their bodies were transferred to the Red Cross as the first part of the exchange. Haaretz:

Israel had moved the five Lebanese prisoners to the Liman military base near the Lebanese border before dawn Wednesday, where they were to wait pending forensic identification of the two hostages. Israel will also receive the remains of Israeli troops who fell in the Second Lebanon War, a month-long conflict sparked by the abduction of Goldwasser and Regev.

[…] Along with four Hezbollah guerillas seized during the 2006 war, Israel was also to return Samir Kuntar, who has been in an Israeli jail since 1979 for the deaths of four Israelis, including Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter Einat.

Here’s Wiki on Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze fighting for the Palestine Liberation Front. He denies killing the 4-year old.

The Daily Star quotes Druze leader Walid Jumblatt:

Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and Democratic Gathering leader Walid Jumblatt also issued a statement in support of the celebrations, saying that the prisoner swap and the Shebaa Farms are two subjects that should be separated from the issue of Hizbullah’s arms.

Jumblatt’s PSP released a statement on Tuesday calling on the party’s followers and the Lebanese people in general to massively participate in the public reception celebrating the release of Kontar and the other detainees.

Another release is the body of Dalal Mughraby. The Daily Star interviews her mother:

The last time Amina Hassan Ismail saw her daughter, Dalal Mughraby, she noticed something unusual about her behavior. “Dalal came and told me she was going to visit her friend at the Ghazi hospital in Sabra. She gave me a framed photograph of herself, which was odd. I said to her, ‘Why are you giving me a picture of yourself when I have the real thing?’ … I felt something was strange about the situation,” Ismail recalled, with tears welling in her eyes.

“A few days later, many people came knocking at our door. Journalists came, wanting to know what the mother of Dalal was like, what kind of house she had lived in. I didn’t know what had happened.”

The Mughraby family turned on the television to see Ehud Barak, Israel’s current defense minister, shooting bullets into Dalal’s corpse and dragging her body across the ground.

[…] On March 11, 1978, Mughraby was just 19 years old when she led a unit of 11 other Lebanese and Palestinian Fedayeen fighters on an operation that killed 36 people. The unit set out for the mission by boat from South Lebanon, sailing to the coast of northern Israel, where they killed American photographer Gail Rubin and hijacked a bus on the Haifa-Tel Aviv highway. The bus was eventually cornered at a police roadblock by an Israeli Army unit led by Barak, who would later become Israel’s prime minister and then defense minister. Refusing to surrender, Mughraby declared an independent Palestinian state and after a long standoff with the Israeli Army, blew up the vehicle.

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Responses

  1. I hope there will be peace after this exchange, but a celebration by Hezbolla may trigger arm confrontation. War to come, I hope not.

  2. I’m pretty sure that Israel was prepared to weather the celebrations. The whole of Lebanon celebrated — with all factions in the government agreeing to the day being a national holiday.

  3. JSF post on Samir Kuntar and his denial of killing Einat Haran.

  4. Uri Avnery has an article on these events. He called it “Different Planets”.

    Definitely worth reading.


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