On Border, Soldiers Wait for Peers

Just before dusk, soldiers at Sector 105 along the border with Lebanon received an order to seal off the narrow road that leads east. Did the order have something to do with the expected prisoner swap with Hezbollah today? Is there a general alert in the area? None of the soldiers knew. All they asked was for us to clear Sector 105.

A few signs reading "Don't let our indifference kill them" are attached to the fence, the only indication that this is the place where Israel Defense Forces soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were abducted in July 2006, sparking the Second Lebanon War. Here, at this very spot, their patrol came under attack. Later, when army officials counted the dead and the wounded, they realized the two were missing. Today, two years and four days after they were abducted, those two are expected to be returned to Israel and the mystery surrounding their fate will finally be cleared.

Sector 105 is very quiet, though the road is full of pockmarks - evidence of the mortar shells that once rained on it. The Golani Brigade soldiers who now guard it were high school students at the time of the abduction. Sector 105 will soon fade away in the memories of these soldiers, becoming just one of many army code names that they will be asked to memorize during their army service, and then forget.

"You feel a lot more alert on the army side of things at this spot - Hezbollah might attack at any time," the commander of the patrol says. "But as to your question about whether I feel anything special when I'm here - not really. Do you remember the terrorist bombings that occurred there every time you walk down Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv?"

The only soldier patroling the area who was here during the Second Lebanon War is the military tracker, and he thinks the prisoner swap is a disgrace.

"They are giving them Samir Kuntar. It's shameful," he says about the Lebanese terrorist who murdered two members of the Haran family and an Israeli policeman in Nahariya in 1979. "We should tell Hezbollah that we are willing to exchange bodies in return for bodies, and live prisoners for live prisoners."

The patrol commander, who sits in the army Hummer in the same place where Goldwasser sat two years ago, is less outspoken. The main flaw in the deal has to do with the third abducted IDF soldier, whose image appears on a poster placed on the fence nearby.

"How are they getting those bodies back faster than they are getting a live abducted soldier?" he asks, referring to Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Palestinian militants from the Gaza border shortly before Goldwasser and Regev were kidnapped. "Are we doing deals with Hezbollah and allowing him to rot in Gaza? We should have given the world to set him free. Something here doesn't make sense."