Israel buries two returned soldiers at military funerals

The military funerals at the home towns of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, Nahariya and Haifa, returned in coffins by Hizballah Wednesday, were watched by Israelis nationwide in live television broadcasts. Many thousands attended the funerals along with national leaders. In tearful scenes, they condoled with Karnit Goldwasser, widowed after nine months’ marriage, and the parents and siblings of the two soldiers, who campaigned tirelessly nation- and worldwide for their return.
The chief of staff promoted the dead soldiers posthumously to master sergeant major and first grade sergeant major.
The IDF medical corps confirmed that the two soldiers, whose cross-border abduction two years ago sparked the 33-day 2006 Lebanon War, died of their wounds shortly after their border patrol was ambushed by Hizballah raiders.
Hizballah withheld this information until the critical moment of their handover at the Lebanese-Israel border on Wednesday, when two black coffins were pulled out of a vehicle.
Israel handed over the bodies of 199 Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists, as well as five live prisoners in return for the soldiers’ remains. Among them was the notorious Lebanese killer, Samir Kuntar, 29 years into his life sentence for the brutal murder of two children, their father and a policeman in Nahariya.
The exchange approved by the Israeli government raised heated controversy: some critics objected to the release of Kuntar and the boost it gave to Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Hizballah terrorist organization, in Beirut.
Others said that handing live terrorists over for dead soldiers created an unhealthy precedent.

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