The government acknowledged Sunday morning that body parts of IDF soldiers were left on the battlefield during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, but said it would not negotiate with Hizbullah terrorists or release prisoners in return for them.
The statement came in response to taunts Saturday by Hizbullah arch terrorist chief Hassan Nasrallah in his first live appearance before a crowd of tens of thousands in celebration of an Islamic holiday in a Beirut neighborhood.
“I tell the Israelis, we have the heads of your soldiers, we have hands, we have legs… there is even a near-complete body, a half or three-quarters of a body from head to chest to the torso,” he claimed in remarks aimed at families of the fallen soldiers.
The claim touches on an extremely sensitive point in Jewish law which requires burial of every available part of a Jewish body, including the blood, in respect for the receptacle that formerly hosted a holy soul. The ZAKA organization sends volunteers to the site of every fatality, including those of the most difficult combat or terrorist situations to recover the body parts and as much of the blood as possible in order to perform this commandment.
Families of the two IDF reservists who were kidnapped in the Hizbullah attack that sparked the war, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, said they would not respond to what they said were remarks irrelevant to their loved ones.
Ministers at the weekly Sunday morning cabinet meeting noted, as did Regev's brother Ayal, that "Nasrallah is deliberately trying to play on our nerves" and reiterated a call for the assassination of the Hizbullah terror leader. Nasrallah went into hiding almost immediately after the war ended, fearing Israel's announced intentions to kill him.
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit said bluntly, "We should not be intimidated by him, nor should we surrender to him. We should eliminate him."
Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim echoed Sheetrit's fiery remarks, adding that Nasrallah was "a sewer." Religious Affairs Minister Yitzchak Cohen, of Shas said Nasrallah's jeers "brought Adolf Hitler and others like him to mind."
Cohen also echoed a point voiced by the security establishment, that Saturday's speech was the second time in recent weeks that Nasrallah had made similar remarks. "The mere fact that this vicious and insane man crawled out of his hole is worrying," added Cohen. "He may be trying to entice us to fall into a trap that would serve his agenda."
Security sources said, however, that the taunts indicated that Nasrallah is under pressure to close a prisoner swap deal with Jerusalem over Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails. The sources did not disclose the source of the pressure.
The government said the IDF had accounted for the bodies of all 119 soldiers who were killed in the war, but said small body parts might not have been found during evacuations carried out under fire from the enemy. All the families of the fallen soldiers were completely updated on the condition of the bodies, which were buried according to Jewish law.
Military officials agreed with a statement by Goldwasser's wife Karnit that Nasrallah did not appear to be referring to the captives.