Hezbollah Reveals New Details on Kidnapping That Sparked Lebanon War With Israel

Group prepared for operation for seven months, setting up training area modeled after the border-zone where the attack took place, the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen reports.

Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh
Assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh. Wikimedia Commons

A pro-Hezbollah media outlet has published purported new details into the planning of the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldiers that sparked the Second Lebanon War. 

According to the report, aired by Al-Mayadeen on Saturday and marking the ten-year anniversary to the war, the head of Hezbollah's military operations at the time, Imad Mughniyeh, who was later killed in an assassination attributed in foreign media to Israel, was directly involved in planning and launching the operation.

The kidnapping reportedly followed a number of failed attempts. The last of these was in November 21, 2005, about eight months before Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were abducted. Three Hezbollah fighters were killed. "At the time, while Israelis were celebrating the operation's failure and the thwarted kidnapping, [Hezbollah] had begun planning a new kidnapping attempt for the goal of a prisoner exchange deal – one of the organization's central goals," Al-Mayadeen reported.

Regev and Goldwasser were abducted on July 13, 2006 by a Hezbollah force, which attacked two IDF Hummers driving along the border with Lebanon. In addition to the two kidnapped soldiers, three Israeli soldiers were killed in the attack. Two years later, Golwasser and Regev's bodies were returned to Israel in exchange for Hezbollah prisoners. Though it was believed that they were dead, it was not officially recognized until their bodies were in Israeli hands.  

According to the purported new details by Hezbollah, the kidnapping was planned for over seven months. A training camp was set up, modeled on the area of the intended kidnapping, and Mughniyeh ran in-depth analyses of past failed attempts to kidnap IDF soldiers.

According to the report, the members of the cell behind the abduction surveyed the area near the border fence regularly. The group knew Israel was aware Hezbollah was planning the abduct its soldiers. 

Al-Mayadeen also aired footage from a Hezbollah surveillance camera, which showed the two Israeli Hummers driven by Golwasser and Regev's unit moments before the attack.