President Shimon Peres said Sunday that as far as Israel was concerned the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah last summer were still alive, despite reports that one of them is dead.
Quoting German diplomats working on the release of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the Lebanese Daily An-Nahar reported Saturday that one of the two soldiers died from injuries he sustained in the July 12 cross-border operation during which they were snatched.
Peres made the comments during a visit to an IDF recruitment center in Tel Hashomer where he met dozens of new recruits.
"These are cheap traders, the State of Israel is acting under the assumption that both soldiers are still alive," Peres said.
Peres heard from senior IDF officials that recruitment figures point to a 10 percent decrease in new recruits in recent years.
"The people's attitude towards the army has to change," he said. "Expressing disrespect and pettiness are harmful to the army. We need to return to the consensus where all of Israel's society is behind the army."
Recently published IDF figures showed that 7 percent of youngsters did not register to the compulsory service for health reasons and 4 percent for living abroad. Another 4 percent were spared compulsory service over criminal records.