Beirut Official Claims IDF Killed Israeli Captives
An official in Beirut claims kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were killed during an Israeli raid during the 2006 war in Lebanon.
Ali Hassan Khalil, a Hizbullah ally who is now health minister, wrote in his memoirs of the 34-day war conflict that news of the death of the two soldiers was relayed by senior Hezbollah official Hussein Khalil.
According to Hassan, Hizbullah guerrillas captured the two soldiers in a cross border attack on July 12, 2006, with the aim of exchanging them for Lebanese and Arab prisoners held in Israel.
Israel, he claimed in his memoir on Tuesday, which is being published serially by the Beirut daily al-Safir, responded by launching a war against Hizbullah demanding the freeing of the soldiers and the disarming of Hizbullah.
Israel categorically rejected Khalil's assertion as soon as it was picked up by the Hebrew press.
“These claims are baseless, as the two soldiers were killed by Hizbullah during the attack on their IDF patrol on July 12, 2006,” Netanyahu spokesman Ofir Gendelman said via Twitter.
The allegations are “blatant lies” and “just another psychological warfare attempt” by Hizbullah, Gendelman added.
"Hizbollah is responsible for the kidnapping of the IDF soldiers in 2006 and, as such, is responsible for the tragic results leading to their deaths," the IDF said in an official statement.
The remains of the two soldiers were eventually exchanged with the last Lebanese prisoners that Israel held two years after the 2006 conflict.
It has long been assumed that the soldiers were killed in the original Hizbullah attack. Hizbullah never commented on the condition of the soldiers until it handed over their remains, and has not raised the issue since.
Khalil did not say why he did not bring the allegation, which he described as "one of the biggest secrets of the 2006 war," to light at an earlier date.