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JCRC Mourns the Loss of Abducted IDF Soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad RegevTwo years and four days after their abduction by Hezbollah terrorists, the remains of two Israeli soldiers have today been returned to Israel as part of a long-awaited prisoner exchange between the State of Israel and Hezbollah. Israel has positively identified the bodies of First Sergeant Ehud Goldwasser and Sergeant First Class Eldad Regev, who were posthumously promoted to Sergeant Major and First Sergeant, respectively.
In return for the remains of Goldwasser and Regev, Israel released five Lebanese prisoners and the bodies of 199 militants. Among those released is Samir Kuntar, a Palestinian militant who had been serving a life sentence for his murder of four Israelis, including a 4-year-old girl and her father, during an attack on the Israeli town of Nahariya in April 1979.
As part of the exchange deal, Hezbollah provided a report on the fate of Ron Arad, an Israeli Air Force navigator taken captive on October 16, 1986. The government of Israel has rejected the report’s findings and continues to hold Hezbollah and Iran responsible for Ron Arad’s capture.
Despite Israel's misgivings about the prisoner exchange, its priority has always been the return of its lost soldiers to their families. The painful process leading up to the return of Goldwasser and Regev exemplifies Israel's moral commitment to securing the return of all of all soldiers sent out on operational missions and demonstrates the compelling moral strength and reverence for human life of Israel and its citizens.
The State of Israel believes it has a duty, as a nation and as a people, to protect those who risk their lives to defend its citizens. Yet as the Jewish state mourns the loss of two of its finest, many Lebanese have come out in joy and celebration.
Following the prisoner exchange at Rosh HaNikra, Lebanon welcomed Kuntar and the four other prisoners with a boisterous “welcome home” ceremony. Hezbollah supporters banged drums and sang, and banners lined the highway, proclaiming, "Israel is shedding tears of pain; Lebanon is shedding tears of joy."
The diametrically opposed reactions of Israelis and Lebanese to the loss of human lives exemplify the moral depravity of Hezbollah and its supporters. One cannot draw moral equivalence between terrorists like Samir Kuntar, who murdered two children and their father in front of their mother, and Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who gave their lives while serving their country.
During this time of mourning for the loss of Goldwasser and Regev, our prayers go out to the soldiers’ families, the IDF, and the citizens of Israel. We recognize the enormous sacrifice Israelis make every day in the quest for peace, and look forward to the day when Israeli mothers and fathers and, indeed all mothers and fathers in the Middle East no longer have to fear for the loss of their children.
For more information on Israel & International affairs at the JCRC, contact Assistant Director Ayelet Margolin at (301) 770-0881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.