The Israeli army should exhume bodies of Hezbollah fighters ahead of a prisoner swap with the Shia Lebanese movement, in exchange for two captured Israeli soldiers, according to military officials.
The Israeli army was on Sunday set to exhume bodies of Hezbollah fighters ahead of a prisoner swap with the Shiite Lebanese movement in exchange for two captured Israeli soldiers, officials said.
The army declared a cemetery for enemy combatants near Amiad in northern Israel a closed military zone as representatives of the military rabbinate began preparing to exhume the remains of the Hezbollah men, a defence official said.
"The process of exhuming is expected to begin tomorrow (Monday) and will last several days... as part of the process to retrieve the abducted soldiers," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah last Wednesday said that the prisoner swap would take place within two weeks after the Israeli government approved the deal, brokered by a UN mediator Gerhard Konrad.
An Israeli government official said on Sunday that the prisoner exchange was "not expected to take place this week."
Under the deal, Israel would release five Lebanese prisoners, the remains of Hezbollah militants and an undetermined number of Palestinians in exchange for the bodies of soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
The two were captured by Hezbollah in a cross-border raid on July 12, 2006 that sparked a devastating 34-day war in Lebanon that killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet last week that the two reserve soldiers were dead.
Date created : 2008-07-07