As feared the men were not alive. Only bodies were returned:
Israeli forensic experts have begun trying to identify the remains of what are believed to be two captured Israeli soldiers, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Hezbollah officials handed over two black coffins to Red Cross officials, who will carry them over the border to Israel.
The families had hoped for the best:
A day before the transfer, Goldwasser’s father, Shlomo, held out hope about his son’s fate.
“They were kidnapped alive. [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nassrallah swears on it the first day that he announced to the world he kidnapped two soldiers alive,” the father said. “If tomorrow he brings them in coffins, it means that he killed them — his words. It means that they killed them, and if he killed them, I am waiting for him to be punished.”
The Israeli’s released a monster in exchange:
Kuntar, who had been a member of the Palestine Liberation Front, led a group of four men who entered Israel from Lebanon by boat in 1979. They killed a police officer who came across them. Then they took a 28-year-old man and his 4-year-old daughter hostage.
Kuntar shot the father dead at close range in front of his daughter and tossed his body in the sea. Then he smashed the girl’s head, killing her.
A 2-year-old girl suffocated as her mother tried to stop her from crying as they hid from Kuntar.
And what do terrorists take away from such an exchange?
Islamic Hamas movement Wednesday said the prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah is a victory for the resistance and the Lebanese guerillas.
“This is very big victory for the resistance and for Hezbollah and it is a festival for the prisoners and their families,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
“This is also a proof that kidnapping Zionist soldiers is the best way to free the prisoners since the occupation keeps arresting them,” Abu Zuhri added.
You can imagine how Kuntar and friends will be received:
Hezbollah has pitched tents with washing facilities near the border crossing in south Lebanon, where the five men are expected to change into commando attire like that which they wore on the day of their capture.
A red carpet leads from the crossing to a stage where Samir Kantar — a convicted murder serving multiple life sentences — and Khaled Zidan, Maher Kurani, Mohammed Sarur and Hussein Suleiman are set to make an appearence.
Five horses, their riders waving Hezbollah flags, made their way along the carpet in preparation for the moment when they will greet the prisoners in a military style procession.
Two hundred Hezbollah volunteers and supporters, dressed in black and wearing yellow caps reading “Divine Victory”, ushered crowds and ensured that the road was kept clear.
“Today Lebanon witnesses an unprecedented victory over Israel,” proclaimed the Ad-Diyar which backs the Hezbollah-led opposition. “Today the Lebanese prisoners return to their country with their heads held high.”
Hamas and Hezbollah now figure that if the Israelis will release a man like Kuntar anything is fair game. The advantage is clearly theirs:
Hamas said that the release of Kuntar, who was serving multiple life sentences, had broken Israel’s refusal to free prisoners serving long terms for deadly attacks, and that the group would redouble its efforts to release such prisoners in exchange for Shalit.
Tzahi Hanegbi, a member of Olmert’s Kadima party and head of the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee, said that in retrospect, the swap had undermined the rationale for launching the Lebanon war after the two soldiers were seized on July 12, 2006.
“In the end we gave what we could have given on the morning of July 13,” Hanegbi said. “Ultimately we are surrendering.”
It was an understandable moment of weakness but the consequences will be disastrous and far-reaching.