Israel Exhuming Bodies for Exchange

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Under the supervision of the military rabbinate, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Engineering Corps soldiers will exhume nearly 200 bodies in preparation for a prisoner exchange with the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror group.

"The process [of exhuming bodies] is a difficult one, both physically and mentally," an IDF official said. "We treat the dead, regardless of who they are, with the utmost respect," he said.

Bodies of slain terrorists are buried in the Amiad cemetery in the north, designated for that purpose. The IDF declared the area a closed military zone as soldiers began clearing the area prior to exhuming the bodies of eight Hezbollah terrorists and 190 slain Arab infiltrators, which will be cleaned, rewrapped, verified for identity and transferred to new caskets.

"This is work that requires precision," an IDF reserve duty soldier told the Israeli daily Haaretz Sunday. "We receive the list of names and work accordingly," he said.

"The cemetery is orderly, the graves are numbered. Each body is buried in a coffin and wrapped in nylon. The digger will assist us in our work, but there is also a lot of work that needs to be done by hand and it will not be easy because we are expecting hot days ahead. We will do the job with the necessary reverence, and we will remove the remains to new coffins," he said.

"We do not discuss the deal among ourselves," he continued, "whether it is worthwhile or not. Our job is to do what we are assigned to do. We are awaiting the return of IDF soldiers [Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser] so they can receive the honor they deserve," he said.

Israel negotiator Ofer Dekel and a representative of Hezbollah signed the deal Sunday according to the Lebanese daily As-Safir.

Dekel will return to Israel with a report on missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad, shot down over Lebanon in 1986. After reviewing the report, Israel will turn over a report to United Nations-appointed German mediators on four Iranian nationals who disappeared in July 1982 in Lebanon.

The first phase of the swap at the Rosh Hanikra border crossing with Lebanon could begin as early as Thursday, with the release of Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, serving four life sentences for murder.

Hezbollah is organizing a hero's welcome for Kuntar, who murdered a father, his two children and an Israeli policeman in a 1979 terror attack in the northern coastal city of Nahariya.

In return, Hezbollah will return what most expect will be the remains of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, kidnapped in a cross-border attack that left four IDF soldiers dead and sparked the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.

Sources: Haaretz, YNet news

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