Israel exchanged two dead Hezbollah fighters and a prisoner for the body of a missing Israeli.
In a deal seen as heralding the possible retrieval of two Israeli soldiers seized by Hezbollah in July 2006, the Lebanese militia, working through intermediaries, on Monday handed over the remains of a fisherman from northern Israel who drowned at sea two years ago and was swept up the Mediterranean coast.
In return, Hezbollah received from Israel the bodies of the two fighters, who were killed in last year’s war. Israel also released a Lebanese man who was captured during the conflict and was deemed physically unfit to remain in jail.
Israeli media treated the deal, which took place at the border town of Rosh Hanikra, as a possible precedent for a wider swap in which army reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser would be freed. Hezbollah has demanded that Israel release hundreds of Arab security prisoners as ransom.
Israel’s Channel 10 television reported that during Monday’s deal, Hezbollah also passed Israel unspecified “information.” Israel has demanded that the Iranian-backed militia supply word on the condition of Regev and Goldwasser, both of whom are believed to have sustained potentially life-threatening injuries during the border raid in which they were abducted.