Report: Kidnapped soldiers suffered critical injuries
According to an Israel Defense Forces report that was cleared for publication yesterday by the military censor, both Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are thought to have been seriously injured during their abduction last July by Hezbollah forces. One of the soldiers is thought to have sustained critical injuries, while the other's injuries are thought to have been serious, ha'aretz.com reports today.
The IDF report was based on examinations of the site of the capture. The IDF Spokesman's Office confirmed that the report was submitted but refused to comment on the extent of Goldwasser's and Regev's injuries. The conclusions in the report were based on an examination of the blood at the site and weapons tests, among other things. Channel 2 television news yesterday quoted the report as stating, with regard to the condition of one of the captives, "If he wasn't brought to a trauma room within an hour after the injury, there is serious fear for his life."
The conclusions of the report were submitted to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. The head of the IDF's Human Resources Directorate, Elazar Stern, presented them to the families of the soldiers immediately afterward. The press release issued by the IDF Spokesman repeated that the army's working assumption was and remains that the soldiers are still alive and emphasized that the IDF is continuing its efforts to bring about their return.
Military officials told Haaretz yesterday that media reports in the past several days about the soldiers are based on old information and that there have been no recent developments.
Peretz yesterday called for less talk and more action on the kidnapped soldiers in an implicit criticism of Olmert. "His job is to bring the abductees home. That is the supreme goal. We shall spare no effort in achieving it," Peretz said.
Sources close to the Goldwasser and Regev families, meanwhile, expressed anger at Olmert's handling of the affair. "We don't understand the prime minister's actions, it looks as if he's trying to kill the soldiers' families while they're still alive," they said yesterday in response to the IDF report and recent news reports.
"The behavior of the Prime Minister's Bureau on the issue can be described as an 'ethical scandal,' it starts with the pitiful statements to schoolchildren, continues with the leaks from a closed meeting with the families and ends with the questionable unsealing [of the IDF report] by the censor," the sources said yesterday. "We don't understand what is behind it and what the families did to deserve such treatment. Ever since the abduction the families have not criticized the government or the prime minister and continued their public activities for the soldiers' return throughout the world, much of it in coordination with official bodies."
Yesterday afternoon, shortly before the gag on the report was lifted, the families held an emergency meeting with activists in the campaign to bring about the soldiers' return. Participants reported a very tense and angry atmosphere in the meeting, during which attempts were made to explain the recent reports and statements about the soldiers' condition.
"We want to believe that it is being done to pressure Hezbollah, but it doesn't look that way. Our concern is that it is a series of pitiful accidents," one participant said.
The Prime Minister's Office said in response that the prime minister is in constant contact with the families of the abducted soldiers and updates them frequently and discreetly on developments.