Regev and Goldwasser: Presumed Dead
Regev and Goldwasser: Presumed DeadFile photo

Two coffins, which Hizbullah claims contain the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, crossed the border into Israel from Lebanon at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Hizbullah gave the bodies to the International Committee of the Red Cross (I.C.R.C.), which then delivered them into Israeli hands. Teams of forensic professionals were standing by with advanced lab equipment on site to take samples to confirm the identities of the remains. A helicopter also stood by to rush the samples to more complete labratories.

Wednesday's transfer was the first interaction the I.C.R.C. had with the two hostages, despite efforts by Victims of Arab Terror International to arrange visits to them while they were alive.

In the framework of the government-approved exchange, convicted terrorist murderer Samir Kuntar of Lebanon and four Hizbullah terrorists are on their way to becoming free men as they await transfer to Lebanon at Israel's northern border at Rosh HaNikra. The families of abducted soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser await the final identification of the remains of their sons. The IDF spokesman said that the identification process takes "between several to many hours."

Red Cross trucks passing through Nahariya to Rosh HaNikra where they later crossed the border into Lebanon carrying the bodies of Arab terrorists as part of the exchange for the kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Israel News Photo: Flash 90

The two-year-long abduction ordeal that triggered the Second Lebanon War is ends with Wednesday's swap in what many see as a catastrophic defeat for Israel and a victory for terrorism. Kuntar and four other Lebanese terrorists spent their last night in the relative comfort of an IDF base after being freed from prison late Tuesday, and look forward to crossing into Lebanon amidst cheering crowds of supporters. Meanwhile, the Regev and Goldwasser families brace for the worst as their sons are most likely dead.

In addition to the five terrorists to be released, Israel has also agreed to return the bodies of 199 Hizbullah soldiers in exchange for the bodies of the Jewish soldiers.

The execution of the deal concludes four months of German mediation and follows Cabinet approval of the deal, as well as a pardon of murderer Kuntar by President Shimon Peres.

Israeli soldiers guard at the road where a Red Cross truck transporting bodies of Hizbullah fighters cross the Rosh HaNikra border.

Israel News Photo: Flash 90

The exchange operation is taking place in the following steps:

    - Samir Kuntar and the four other terrorists were released from jail to a military facility near Rosh Hanikra on   Tuesday night.

    - Simultaneously, 23 trucks carrying 199 bodies of Hizbullah terrorists made their way to the Rosh Hanikra area.

    - Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser arrived from Lebanon to the exchange point in Rosh Hanikra around 9 a.m.

    - The two IDF soldiers will then be identified, a process expected to take up to several hours.

    - Once the identification of Regev and Goldwasser is complete, Major-Generals Gadi Shamni and Elazar Stern will arrive at the homes of the captives' families to inform them of the fate of their loved ones.

    - The families will then travel to the Shraga Camp near Nahariya, where they will see the two soldiers. If Regev and Goldwasser are dead as presumed, their funerals will most likely be held on Thursday.

    - In the meantime, upon completion of the identification of the returned Israelis, the five terrorist prisoners and 199 terrorist bodies will be handed over to Lebanon.

Israeli soldiers guard at the road where a Red Cross truck transporting bodies of Hizbullah fighters crosses the Rosh HaNikra border.

Israel News Photo: Flash 90

Samir Kuntar has vowed to resume his terrorist activities upon his return to Lebanon.

The return of soldiers Goldwasser and Regev comes two years after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to continue the war until they were freed.