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Israel and Hezbollah trade prisoners and bodies

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Israel and Hezbollah trade prisoners and bodies


Hezbollah have handed the bodies of two Israeli soldiers to the Red Cross, ready to be exchanged for Lebanese prisoners and Arabs killed in northern Israel.

Red Cross personnel have been carrying out DNA tests to confirm the identities of the men.

Hezbollah claim the results prove they are Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, fulfilling a pre-requisite for the swap to go ahead.

It was two years ago, in July 2006, that Goldwasser and Regev were captured in a cross-border raid from Lebanon, an act which sparked the month long war between Hezbollah and Israel.

As the two coffins headed homeward, a Red Cross truck carrying the remains of nearly two hundred Arabs, killed trying to infiltrate Israel, was heading towards Lebanon.

The exchange is being hailed a triumph by Hezbollah, but many Israelis see it as a painful necessity they have to go through in order to get the remains of the two captured reservists back home.

Among the five prisoners being released is Samir Qantar, who has spent nearly 30 years behind bars for killing four Israelis, including a toddler in 1979.

The Israeli President Shimon Peres pardoned him, but said it wasn’t forgiveness, simply that he was obliged to get the Israeli soldiers back.

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