Daily Israel Report

Italy: IDF Hostages Alive, Not in ´Great´ Condition

An Italian official said Monday that two IDF soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah terrorists on the northern border are still alive but not in “great” condition.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 8/21/2006, 7:13 PM / Last Update: 8/21/2006, 9:44 PM

The head of the Italian Senate Defense Committee, Sergio de Gregorio, told the Reuters news service that Iran wants Italy to negotiate with Hizbullah for the release of the hostages.

De Gregorio said that Iranian national security director Ali Larijani promised he would personally ask Hizbullah to negotiate with Italy over the prisoners. Hizbullah is heavily supported by Iran and Syria. Italy is one of Iran’s biggest trade customers. “Italy has excellent relations with Israel and good relations with Iran, as we are the top trade partner.”

The two IDF reservists, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser have been held hostage by Hizbullah since their kidnap on July 12th, an incident that sparked a full-fledged war between Israel and Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.

“It appears that they are in good condition, but not great,” said de Gregorio. “They are alive.” He did not give further details, other than to say that Larijani told him that “he will ask Hizbullah to negotiate only with the Italians.”

A third soldier, IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit was abducted three weeks earlier by Hamas terrorists who attacked an IDF base at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza and Egypt. His whereabouts remain unknown.

One week ago, a ceasefire agreement was implemented without the return of the captives, despite prior assurances by U.S. officials as well as Israeli leaders that the war would not end until all hostages were returned safely.