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Report: Israel to declare Lebanon hostages dead

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A German magazine said Israel plans to declare dead two soldiers who were abducted by Hezbollah.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s administration will soon go public with its assessments that Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, two army reservists seized by Hezbollah in a July 2006 border raid, are dead, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reported over the weekend.

Israeli officials said there was no formal change to Jerusalem’s policy that Goldwasser and Regev should be considered alive unless proven otherwise, and the soldiers’ families dismissed the Der Spiegel report as speculative.

Germany has been key to efforts to mediate an Israeli-Hezbollah prisoner swap under which the soldiers would be returned home.

Hezbollah has refused to give any information on the condition of Goldwasser or Regev.

Israeli security sources believe that one or both of the men may have been killed during their kidnapping, given the amount of ordnance used against their convoy as it patrolled the Lebanese border.

Der Spiegel regularly runs stories about the Middle East and is believed to have high-placed government sources in Israel.

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