Child-killer freed: A short while after the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were identified, murderer Samir Kuntar and the four Hizbullah prisoners headed to the Lebanese border. They were brought to the border crossing around 5 pm and were handed over to the Red Cross before crossing into Lebanon.
Triumphant return – Kuntar in his new outfit (Photo: AFP)
Hizbullah's al-Manar network reported that Kuntar and the four prisoners were received by masses of supporters, cries of joy, and lively music. Following a short ceremony, the freed prisoners were set to head to Beirut for a mass rally to celebrate their release.
In his first statement after being released, Kuntar told al-Manar: "I want to congratulate all those who sacrificed for the sake of this new victory. This is the true supplement to the July victory (Second Lebanon War.) I won't say much now, I will make do with sending well-wishes to the man responsible for the promise that was fulfilled, Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, and to the heroic fighters of the Islamic resistance (Hizbullah)."
Happy day in Lebanon (Photo: AFP)
A short while after Kunter entered LEbanon, Hizbullah handed over to Israel a coffin containing the body parts of IDF soldiers who died in the Second Lebanon War. The body parts will be examined at the Abu Kabir Forensic institute. The soldiers' families will be informed following the examination.
While families of Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were mourning their loved ones, Hizbullah launched its celebrations Wednesday afternoon with a festive ceremony marking the arrival of the first caskets containing terrorists handed over by Israel earlier in the day.
Senior Hizbullah figures and Shiite leaders took part in the ceremony, near the border with Israel. The first truck to enter Lebanon carried the bodies of 19 Hizbullah fighters.
Earlier Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hizbullah. Abbas congratulated Kuntar's family and sent his condolences to the Lebanese families receiving their loved ones' bodies as part of the deal.
Samir Kuntar's mother joined the cries of joy on Wednesday afternoon, praising Hizbullah leader Nasrallah for "the huge achievement."
In an interview with the al-Manar network, Kuntar's mother, also known as Um Jabar, said that "there is no limit to my joy today. I cannot express my feelings. This is complete liberty. For three days I have been getting phone calls from residents of Palestine, Yemen, Morocco and other countries, who congratulate me and I congratulate them."
On Tuesday, Kuntar and the four Lebanese prisoners met in prison with Red Cross representatives. They underwent medical examinations by the Israel Prison Service's medical crews and by the Red Cross.
After bidding farewell to their fellow inmates, the five were then taken out of the wings they were jailed in and put in seclusion.