Israel turns over bodies of two Hizbullah fighters
Israel handed over the bodies of two Hizbullah members killed in clashes with the Israeli army, to representatives of the Red Cross at the Lebanese border on Monday afternoon.
Earlier, Hizbullah spokesman told Reuters news agency that the bodies of "martyrs" Ammar Hammoud and Ghassan Zaatar would be handed over to the Red Cross at 1300 GMT.
An Israeli security source was quoted in the Israeli media as saying that in exchange for the bodies, Israel would get information on the fate of some of the Israeli soldiers and citizens believed to be held by Hizbullah. "Israel will hand over two bodies in exchange for information on Israeli hostages," an Israeli security source said before the handover.
A day earlier, Al Nour radio quoted Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah as saying progress was being made on an exchange of prisoners between his movement and Israel.
"I assure you that the issue is making some progress and that we are working to solve it very soon," Nasrallah said. He did not provide further details, but stated that mediations between his movement and Israel had resumed. On Monday, Nasrallah reiterated the recovery of the bodies came in the context of the German-mediated efforts.
The Red Cross confirmed it expected to receive the two bodies and would hand them over to relatives.
"This is definitely not a (prisoner) swap," said Antoine Bieler, ICRC head of delegation in Lebanon, according to the news agency. "At least for today, this is a unilateral move from one side to the other."
Hizbullah spokesman added that Hammoud was killed in December 1999 in a suicide attack on an Israeli convoy in southern Lebanon.
Zaatar was killed in clashes with Israeli forces in November 1998 in Iqlin al-Tuffah, also in southern Lebanon. (Albawaba.com)