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Israel Buries Soldiers Returned in Prisoner Exchange With Hezbollah

By VOA News
17 July 2008

Thousands of mourners gathered in Israel Thursday for the military burials of two slain Israeli soldiers returned in a prisoner exchange with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke to mourners gathered at the funeral of Ehud Goldwasser in the town of Nahariya, two years after he and soldier Eldad Regev were captured in a cross-border attack. Barak said Israel will continue to make every effort to retrieve other captive soldiers.

In a separate ceremony, soldiers and civilians buried Regev in the northern city Haifa.

Hezbollah returned the bodies of the two soldiers Wednesday in exchange for Israel's release of five Lebanese prisoners.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah greeted the former prisoners at a rally in Beirut Wednesday, attended by tens of thousands of supporters.

The ceremonies continued Thursday, as a convoy of vehicles transported the remains of nearly 200 Arab fighters from southern Lebanon to Beirut. The remains were returned by Israel as part of the prisoner exchange.

Throngs of Lebanese supporters showered the coffins with rice and rose petals as the convoy passed.

Among the five former prisoners returned to Lebanon was Samir Kantar, who was convicted of taking part in a 1979 cross-border attack in which four Israelis, including two children, died. Kantar has vowed to continuing fighting Israel.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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