A Lebanese newspaper reported Tuesday that at least one of the two Israel Defense Forces soldiers set to be returned in a prisoner exchange with the Hezbollah militant group was killed at the time of his abduction in 2006.
The report in Al-Akhbar, which did not state whether Ehud Goldwasser or Eldad Regev had been killed, said that the other soldier had been wounded in the cross-border kidnapping operation, but that his current condition was unknown.
It also said that at the time of the kidnap, two other IDF soldiers had fled from the jeep in which Goldwasser and Regev were riding. The abduction sparked a month-long war, which ended with a United Nations cease-fire resolution.
The cabinet on Tuesday ratified the swap deal, set to take place at 9 A.M. on Wednesday.
The report also states that Israel refrained from bombing a Hezbollah headquarters building for fear that the abducted soldiers were being held there.
According to Al-Akhbar, four squads of Hezbollah fighters took part in the operation. One squad was responsible for mortar fire, a second provided covering fire with small arms and larger weaponry, and a third fired in the direction of IDF emplacements in the area.
The fourth squad had the most important role, penetrating into Israeli territory with stretchers and loading the two soldiers on to a civilian vehicle which took them to a nearby location, where the vehicle was exchanged for another.
"It was clear that one of the soldiers was dead," the report said.
As the operation began, the report says, an IDF force was operating in the area in two Hummer jeeps. Hezbollah's aim was to take the soldiers in the first vehicle captive, without having the vehicle burn completely. The squad responsible for the kidnapping had also apparently trained for the possibility that the doors of the jeep would be locked.
The rocket-propelled grenades fired at the Hummer struck the side on which Goldwasser and Regev were sitting, wounding both. They were taken out by the Hezbollah squad, while two other IDF soldiers got out of the jeep and fled to an adjacent wooded area.
A Hezbollah "clean-up squad" then came to the site, dousing the jeep with gasoline and burning it, in order to hide evidence that might have shed light on the incident.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now