Ofer Dekel, the government's emissary dealing with IDF prisoners of war, left Sunday on a quiet mission that may be aimed at closing a deal to free IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, according to a report by Ynet. No specific details have been released about his mission or his destination, however.
Ehud's father Shlomo confirmed that Dekel was abroad, and said he believed that Kuntar should be "swapped" for the release of Israeli captives.
Ehud and Eldad, who were kidnapped by Hizbullah terrorists at the outset of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, have been neither seen nor heard from since 2006. Representatives from the International Red Cross have been barred from visiting them, in direct violation of the Geneva Convention, since the day they were kidnapped.
It is believed the prisoner swap deal will include Lebanese Druze terrorist Samir Kuntar, who is serving four life sentences in an Israeli prison for a vicious attack he led on Nahariyah in 1979.
The brutality of the attack, which left four Israelis dead, including two toddlers, inspired the judge to hand down one of the longest prison sentences ever decreed in the Jewish State. Kuntar remains in Hadarim Prison 29.
Until this point, Israel has refused to discuss his release unless there was information about the missing Israeli Air Force navigator Ron Arad.
What About Ron Arad?
Kuntar was originally being saved as a bargaining chip for the freedom of the captured airman, whose aircraft was shot down over Lebanon in 1986. Three letters in Arad's handwriting and two photos of the missing airman were received by his family in 1987, proving he was alive.
But by 1988 talks faded and it is believed the Amal terrorists who captured him, led by Nabih Berri - today the Speaker of Lebanon's Parliament and head of the Shi'ite Amal party - handed Ron Arad over to a Hizbullah terrorist unit, who then turned him over to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
This information came from a Hizbullah terrorist, Mustafa Dirani, captured by Israel in 1994. Dirani said he received $300,000 for handing Ron Arad over to the Iranians. He and another Hizbullah terrorist captured by Israel, Abdul Karim Obeid, were both released in a prisoner swap deal to secure the freedom of Israeli businessman Elchanan Tenenbaum.
No further information on Ron Arad was ever discovered after the two Hizbullah terrorists were freed.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly plans to meet with the Arad family later this week to inform them that Kuntar might be released in a prisoner swap deal to free Goldwasser and Regev.
Welcome Back Carter…
Former US President Jimmy Carter is expected to return to the region this summer to meet with Hizbullah officials in Lebanon.
The visit comes on the heels of his controversial trip to Damascus earlier this year to meet with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. The Democratic former president also traveled to Egypt, where he met with students at the American University in Cairo, and visited with Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
Carter, who has been a longstanding critic of Israel, particularly vis-a-vis its counterterrorism policies, also broke with US policy by laying a wreath at the grave of the late master terrorist and Fatah leader, Yasser Arafat, during his April 2008 visit to the region.