Israel and Hezbollah completed the exchange of prisoners and remains of dead soldiers and fighters Wednesday afternoon.Five Arab, including Palestinian, prisoners, in Israeli jails have been released including Samir Qintar, Israel’s longest held Lebanese prisoner who has been incarcerated in an Israeli jail for the past 30 years. In return, Hezbollah will give back Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, two soldiers the group captured in July 2006, and the remains of other Israeli soldiers killed in the 34-day war that followed the operation.
Red Cross Trucks came from Jordan and loaded the remains of 200 killed Arab fighters from the cemetery of numbers and drove to Lebanon. The remains also include Dalal Al-Mughrabi a Palestinian female fighter who was killed in 1978. Ehud Barak, current Defense Minister of Israel was seen on TV shooting bullets at her dead body and dragging her on the ground.
Local observers describe the release of Qintar as a blow to Israel who has refused in earlier swap deals to release him, and at the same time will contribute to increase the popularity of Hezbollah and its secretary general, Hassan Nassrallah.
Nassrallah has vowed to bring Qintar back home to Lebanon after the 34-day war of July 2006.
Qintar was captured in 1978 as he carried out an armed attack at Naharia in northern Israel and killed a number of Israelis. Qintar and his four mates were received by tens of thousands of people in Lebanon. On their way to Al-Naqoura they stopped to wear a military uniform to the reception square.
The deal was brokered through German mediation, and has been negotiated shortly after the war ended in August 2006.