IDF Rabbinate Prepares to Exhume Enemy Dead Ahead of Hezbollah Deal

The Military Rabbinate called up reservists last week in anticipation for the prisoner exchange with Hezbollah that is expected to take place sometime in the middle of next week. Both Israel and Hezbollah expect the deal to take place on July 15.

Meanwhile, preparations are ongoing at the cemetery for enemy dead at Amiad in the upper Galilee, where the remains of Hezbollah dead are to be exhumed and transferred to Lebanon as part of the deal.

Defense sources said yesterday that the remains of approximately 200 Lebanese will be transferred to Lebanon at the Rosh Hanikra border crossing. The remains are those of 10 Hezbollah fighters, as well as Lebanese civilians killed by Israel Defense Forces fire in the security zone in southern Lebanon or along the border with Israel. In addition, the deal includes the remains of dozens of Palestinians belonging to various militant organizations.

The process of exhuming the bodies and checking their identity is expected to take several days, and is a task handled by the Military Rabbinate.

"This is work that requires precision," one of the reservists told Haaretz yesterday. "We receive the list of names and work accordingly. The cemetery is orderly, the graves are numbered, each body is burried in a coffin and wrapped in nylon. The digger will assist us in our work, but there is also a lot of work that needs to be done by hand and it will not be easy because we are expecting hot days ahead. We will do the job with the necessary reverence and we will move the remains into new coffins.

"We do not discuss the deal among ourselves," he added, "whether it is worthwhile or not. Our job is to do what we are assigned to do. We are waiting for the return of IDF soldiers so they can receive the honor they deserve."

Prior to the deal's completion, a number of legal procedures still need to be addressed in Israel.

In order to pardon Samir Kuntar, who was convicted of the murder of civilians in Nahariya in 1979, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann will have to sign an order. Although Friedmann is opposed to the deal, he is expected to undertake this act, which is purely technical.

The matter will then be brought before President Shimon Peres. Afterward, 48 hours will be allowed for petitions against the pardon to be brought before the High Court of Justice.