IDF Chief Rabbi, Brigadier General Avi Ronsky began the process of assessing the fate of captive IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
Ronsky received the relevant intelligence information and will determine whether or not do declare the two soldiers "killed in action whose place of burial is unknown". The chief military is the only one authorized to make such an assertion.
Regev and Goldwasser were captured by Hizbullah gunmen during a cross border raid on July 12, 2006.
Declaring the captive soldiers as "killed in action" would greatly affect the burgeoning prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah, as the "price" paid for the return of soldiers' bodies is usually significantly lower in such agreements.
The Regev and Goldwasser families were enraged by the decision to disclose intelligence information to the chief military rabbi.
Benny Regev, Eldad's brother, said army officials informed the families of the move only after the material was relayed to Ronsky and referred to the IDF's conduct as "humiliating."
He added that "should the chief military rabbi declare the captive soldiers as dead, I don't see how their bodies will be returned to Israel anytime soon.
"In case the rabbi does not receive the intelligence information and does not declare them fallen, then I find it hard to believe that the exchange deal that has been agreed upon will materialize, because then Hizbullah will increase its demands and we'll go back to square one," he said.
Karnit Goldwasser, Ehud's wife, said after hearing of the decision "this is a terrible day for me and a shameful one for the State of Israel. We always thought the problem was with (Hizbullah chief Hassan) Nasrallah."
She said the families are considering filing an appeal with the High Court of Justice against the decision to involve the military rabbi in the affair.
As reported by Ynet, Hizbullah has returned to its initial demand that Israel release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Regev and Goldwasser. One of the options raised by Israel's security establishment is to declare the captive soldiers dead in an attempt to reduce the Shiite group's demands.
In response to Hizbullah's stipulation, a senior defense official said Israel would renew its demand to receive any and all information in Hizbullah's possession regarding missing navigator Ron Arad prior to signing the exchange agreement.