Report: Hezbollah-Israel prisoner swap imminent


Hezbollah will repatriate two captive Israeli soldiers by next week, a Lebanese newspaper reported.

Al-Akhbar, a Beirut daily affiliated with Hezbollah, reported Monday that a breakthrough is imminent in indirect prisoner-swap talks between the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia and Israel.

According to the report, the two Israeli army reservists, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were abducted in a July 12, 2006 border raid by Hezbollah, will be repatriated “this coming Friday, or Sunday.”

Israel declined comment, but Jerusalem sources have recently confirmed progress in the German-mediated talks.

Israel has signaled willingness to free Samir Kantar, a jailed Lebanese terrorist, as well as four Hezbollah guerrillas captured during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, in exchange for its troops.

Al-Akhbar, in line with longstanding Hezbollah policy, gave no indication of whether Goldwasser and Regev are alive. Israeli military officials say they may not have survived the ambush during which they were snatched.

Israel’s Army Radio quoted Kantar’s lawyer as saying he had received no word on a plan to free his client, who is serving a life prison term for killing two men and a 4-year-old girl during a 1979 raid on northern Israel.

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