Bodies of Israeli Soldiers Returned in Swap

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CBNNews.com - ROSH HANIKRA, Israel - It's not the first time Israel has released Arab prisoners serving time for acts of terror in exchange for the bodies of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers killed by their captors.

But no matter how many times it happens, the nation mourns with the soldiers' families.

Click play to view a report from Israel by CBN News' Gary Lane.

In 2003, Israel received the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah terrorists in a cross-border attack in October 2000.

Haim Avraham, who waited more than three years for word on his son, Benny, understands the emotional agony of waiting and hoping, only to bury his child's remains -- putting closure after three years of not knowing.

Avraham also understands the mentality of the Islamic terror world.

"They have a deep-rooted hatred. That's where this comes from," he said. "It's the same story with the Ron Arad report -- all a bunch of lies," he said.

On Saturday, Hezbollah delivered an 80-page report, part of the prisoner exchange deal, on Israeli navigator Ron Arad, who was shot down over Lebanon in 1986 and never heard from again.

"[Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah uses the media to do these things," Avraham said.

"He looks for the opportune moment to give hope or play with people's emotions, even though it's been said from many sources that [the soldiers] were no longer alive," he said.

Lebanon Declares a National Holiday

While Israel mourns, Lebanon declared a state holiday to celebrate the "liberation of prisoners from the jails of the Israeli enemy and the return of the remains of the martyrs [Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists buried in Israel].

And in Palestinian Authority (PA) headquarters in Ramallah, senior Fatah official Ziad Abu al-Enain, director of the PA's Ministry for Prisoner Affairs, congratulated Hezbollah.

"The Palestinians congratulate Hezbollah and its leader and send their best wishes to all the Lebanese people and to all the Palestinians upon the completion of the deal and the release of heroes, headed by the prisoners' leader, Samir Kuntar," al-Enain said, adding that they too would hold celebrations of solidarity.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip passed out candy to one another in the streets.

Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), told YNet news that "the images of the Israeli soldiers' coffins proves that kidnapping soldiers will continue to be the most efficient, favored and ideal way to release Palestinian prisoners, particularly those defined by the enemy as having 'blood on their hands.'"

Samir Kuntar, the Jihadist Hero

Among the five Lebanese prisoners released from Israeli jails is Samir Kuntar, serving four consecutive life sentences for murdering Israeli policeman Eliyahu Sharar, Danny Haran and his four-year old daughter, Einat, on April 22, 1979.

While Nasrallah takes center stage in Lebanon's celebrations, recently elected President Michel Suleiman, who formed a unity government with Hezbollah, said he shares the joy of the Lebanese people in Kuntar's release.

For his part, Kuntar promised Hezbollah's spiritual leader that he will resume the jihad ["holy" war] against Israel.

"I give you my promise and oath that my only place will be in the fighting front soaked with the sweat of your giving and with the blood of the shahids [martyrs], the dearest people, and that I will continue your way until we reach full victory," Kuntar wrote in a letter reprinted in the Palestinian Authority's official newspaper, al-Hayat al-Jadida.

Kuntar's vows to Hezbollah's spiritual leader are the norm for Arab terrorists released in prisoner exchanges.

Still, the terrorists' Israeli victims find it difficult to understand their thinking.

"It is hard for anyone with normal sensibilities to comprehend how someone can feel joy and hatred while smashing the head of a four-year-old child," wrote the widow of Danny Haran, now remarried and the mother of two children, in The Washington Times.

"What kind of pathology can cause a society to celebrate such evil?" she asked.

And what kind of society makes role models and heros of such people?

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, YNet news

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News - Jerusalem Bureau

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