In October 2000, just days after the second intifada broke out, Hezbollah managed to lure Colonel Elchanan Tannenbaum to Dubai under the false pretense of a drug deal, where he was kidnapped and taken to Lebanon.
At the same time, the Lebanese terror organization ambushed IDF soldiers at Mount Dov, and murdered and snatched the bodies of three soldiers – Omar Souad, Adi Avitan and Benny Avraham – back to Lebanon.
The affair came to its end some three-and-a-half years later, with a dramatic prisoner exchange deal mediated by German intelligence.
Tannenbaum after his release (Image taken from video footage)
A book titled "The State of Israel will do anything", which will be published this week, reveals images from footage of the deal, as it was filmed by the German intelligence and the IDF. The same German intelligence agency is currently mediating between Israel and Hamas for the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit.
Ynet presents for the first time, images from taken from the clip, which documents the drama in Israel and Germany, from the chilling verification of the bodies' identities, through to the green light given to release prisoners in exchange for Tannenbaum.
In exchange for Tannenbaum and the three soldiers, whose condition was unknown as Hezbollah refused to specify whether they were dead or alive, Israel released prisoners considered to be bargaining chips in the affair of Israeli MIA pilot Ron Arad - Mustafa Dirani and Sheikh Abdul-Karim Obeid along with 21 other Lebanese prisoners.
In addition, freedom was granted to 400 Palestinians, five Syrians, three Moroccans, three Sudanese, one Libyan and a German Hezbollah fighter Stephan Smirk, who was seized in Israel on his way to carrying out a major attack.
Caskets carrying Israeli soldiers (Image taken from video footage)
In the second part of the deal, it was agreed that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah would provide information on the missing navigator in exchange for Lebanese Samir Kuntar, who was sentenced to life in prison in Israel for murder, and later released in exchange for the bodies of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
IDF and German intelligence photographers documented the deal on a number of fronts, from the Israel Prison Service facilities from which the Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners were released, the jets which led the Israeli team and the "bargaining chips" to Germany, the exchange point at Rosh Hanikra and the crossings with the West Bank, to the military facility in Cologne, where the three Israeli bodies and Tannenbaum were brought.
Another painful event came full circle during the exchange, as Colonel Lior Lotan, head of the Intelligence's missing and captives department, personally released Mustafa Dirani to Hezbollah, ten years after he dragged him out of his bed in south Lebanon with his own hands.
After the release, the two faced each other once again in the bathroom that was set up by the Germans in the giant hanger. "You go round and round, and in the end you meet in the same place – in the bathroom," Lotan said in sum, adding, "I could have just carried him over my shoulders, taken him with me and started all over again."