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Update – 15 July 2008

Dear Advocates, 

At 4:00pm AEST tomorrow (9:00am local Israeli time) the prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah is due to take place. From all reports, abducted soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are believed to be dead, and all that will be returned are their remains. Sadly, while Samir Kuntar and four other terrorists return to a hero’s welcome in Lebanon, Goldwasser and Regev will most likely be returned in coffins and buried the following day. Please read ‘IDF prepares funerals for Goldwasser and Regev’ from Jerusalem Post for more information.

To see how it has been covered in our local papers please read ‘Israel to swap six prisoners for bodies’ from The Australian and ‘Olmert makes promises on Palestinian prisoner release’ from The Age. Neither article went into great detail of the reasons why terrorists such as Kuntar are being held in Israeli prisons, apart from The Australian alluding to the fact that Kuntar “has served 29 years for killing four Israelis in the northern coastal city of Nahariya in 1979”. No word on the actual brutality of the act, which saw father Danny Haran being shot at close range and his four year old daughter Einat having her skull bashed against a rock with the butt of Kuntar’s rifle.

For 29 years Kuntar’s file has been sitting in the district courthouse archives in Haifa, with its contents never being authorised for publication. On the eve of his release, these files have been declassified. Please read ‘The Kuntar File, Exposed’ from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Before the swap was to take place, another condition was that Hezbollah release a report on missing in action IAF navigator Ron Arad, whose plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986. He is believed to have been transferred to Iran, but until this day his fate is unknown. Four years ago Israel used Kuntar as a bargaining chip for information on Arad. While a deal for the return for Elhanan Tannebaum and the bodies of three IDF soldiers went through, no information on Arad was received and therefore Kuntar remained in jail. Once again the issue of Ron Arad was brought into the deal, and this time Hezbollah did deliver a report, but the report has been deemed “absolutely unsatisfactory” by Ehud Olmert and the Israeli government. To read more, click here. The most recent reports coming out of Israel state that the unsatisfactory report could now put the prisoner swap in doubt, subject to a Cabinet vote on the matter. For more information, click here.

Hezbollah also released two previously unseen photographs of Arad and fragments of his diary believed to have been in 1987, a year after his capture. To see the photo and read more please read ‘Ron Arad’s family gets photo of missing IAF navigator’ from Haaretz.

Still on the topic of Hezbollah, Defence Minister Ehud Barak has declared that UN Resolution 1701, brokered to bring an end to the Lebanon war, “had not worked, does not work now and will probably never work” because it did not achieve the aim of disarming Hezbollah. On the contrary, Hezbollah has been rearming, with the assistance of Syria, and now has a larger rocket arsenal than it did during the war two years ago. For more information read ‘Barak – UN Resolution on Lebanon war is a failure’ from Haaretz and an older report from Jerusalem Post entitled ‘Defense officials: UN Resolution 1701 on the verge of collapse’.

I will bring you more information regarding the release of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev as the information becomes available.

Best wishes,


Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
State Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507