Shlomo Goldwasser: If they're dead - killers must pay
Father of captive soldier responds to reports in Arab media contradicting Israeli belief kidnapped troops are dead, says if boys 'come home in coffins' revenge must be exacted on their killers
Ahead of the imminent captive exchange deal with Hizbullah, Shlomo Goldwasser, father of kidnapped IDF soldier Ehud Goldwasser, said on Tuesday: "Our basic assumption has been that they were kidnapped alive. If they return in coffins it would mean they were killed. Those who killed them must pay with their lives and should join Mugniyah if that is the case."
Hizbullah operations commander Mugniyah was assassinated in Damascus earlier this year. The Lebanese group has blamed Israel for his death, though Jerusalem denied any involvement on its part.
Goldwasser stressed however that he was not in any way seeking to dictate the government’s policy.
But his call was answered by Ronen Shahar, brother of policeman Eliyahu Shahar, who was murdered by Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar in 1979.
Kuntar's release is the most contested points of the prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah.
"The best revenge would be for Kuntar and the other killers to stay in jail. That is the revenge that you, Shlomo, can exact in the name of your son, instead of giving them what they want," Shahar said, pleading with Goldwasser.
The bereaved brother added: "You cannot on the one hand pressure the government to surrender to them, and on the other hand call on the government to seek revenge. Either way your son's soul is bound to eternal life. There are millions of Jews buried in Europe and in enemy nations, and no defense principles were compromised to bring them for burial in Israel. You can put an end to this capitulation, and you yourself can make them pay, right now. The power to do this is in your hands."
Miki Goldwasser remains hopeful
Meanwhile, tensions were at a boiling point at the Goldwasser home in Nahariya. “We are at the final strech,” Goldwasser said. The extended family will gather at Ehud's parents' home in Nahariya as the process moves forward.
Ehud's mother, Miki, talked of the difficult last few weeks on Saturday. “We’re at the height of tension. Very pressured. We find it hard to withstand it. I really hope this week will be over and there will be no more obstacles on the way to completing the deal. I hope two nightmarish years are finally coming to an end.”
Goldwasser ended on an optimistic note, saying “I still believe I will be able to hug Udi.”
Lebanese daily 'al-Akhbar' reported on Tuesday morning that one of the captives, either Goldwasser or Eldad Regev, was killed during the original Hizbullah raid on their patrol convoy on July 12th 2006. The paper, which has close ties with Hizbullah, said reliable sources have been unable to ascertain the condition of the second reservist.
This report joins numerous others from the past several days claiming Israel "is in for a big surprise when the deal goes through, as one of the soldiers is still alive," said the reports circulating Arab media sites.
"This surprise will prove to Israel the extent of its failure to determine the fates of the captives till the very last moment," the reports said.
Israel believes both Goldwasser and Regev are dead and Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier-General Avi Ronsky has also said there is sufficient intelligence information to declare the captives "killed in action."