Israel may declare Lebanon hostages dead


Israel may declare two soldiers held by Hezbollah dead.

Israel’s military rabbinate announced Monday it was studying intelligence assessments about the condition of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, army reservists abducted by the Lebanese militia after a July 2006 border raid, and will soon issue a decision on their status.

Forensic findings at the scene where the soldiers’ convoy was ambushed suggested that one or both may not have survived.

The rabbinate’s conclusions could have a major impact on a German-mediated swap in the works between Israel and Hezbollah.

Israel has offered to release five jailed Lebanese terrorists in exchange for its troops, but if the two are declared dead, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may find himself under pressure from the defense establishment to reduce the ransom. Israel has the bodies of about 10 Lebanese which it might offer instead of live prisoners.

There are also implications for Karnit Goldwasser, Ehud’s wife, whose prospects of remarrying under Jewish law depend on a rabbinical decision that she is a widow.


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