July 16 (Reuters) - Hezbollah handed over coffins said to contain the bodies of two captured Israeli soldiers to the Red Cross at the Israeli-Lebanese border on Wednesday to exchange for Lebanese prisoners held by Israel.
The exchange was hailed as a triumph by the Lebanese guerrilla group and as a painful necessity by many Israelis.
Here are some details:
— In return for releasing five men, Israel has recovered the bodies of two of its soldiers, captured in a 2006 cross-border raid that triggered the 34-day war with the Iranian-backed group. Israel had entered indirect talks to retrieve the soldiers.
— Eldad Regev from the town of Kiryat Motskin near the coastal city of Haifa, and Ehud Goldwasser from the northern Israeli city of Nahariya, were both military reservists. They were patrolling Israel’s northern border in two armoured jeeps ambushed by Hezbollah guerrillas on July 12, 2006.
— Relatives of one of the two soldiers said in June an Israeli negotiator had told them a German-mediated prisoner swap was coming together. Their families urged Hezbollah to show proof the two were still alive.
LEBANESE PRISONERS IN ISRAEL:
— Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in June that Lebanese prisoners would come home soon. He did not say if the two Israelis were dead or alive. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had said they were probably dead.
— Topping the list was Samir Qantar, the longest-held Lebanese detainee. He was serving a life sentence for a deadly 1979 raid on northern Israel by a Palestinian guerrilla group.
— Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had described Qantar as the last bargaining chip for word on the fate of Israeli airman Ron Arad, who disappeared after bailing out during a bombing run on Lebanon in 1986.
— The other four Lebanese prisoners, Maher Qorani, Mohammad Srour, Hussein Suleiman and Khodr Zeidan were transferred from Ashmoret prison, near the coastal city of Netanya, where they have been held since their capture in the 2006 Lebanon war.
— Under the deal, Israel will also hand over the bodies of 200 Arabs killed while infiltrating Israel. Hezbollah will return the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in south Lebanon in 2006.
— In 2004, Hezbollah and Israel exchanged the bodies of three Israeli soldiers captured in 2000 and a kidnapped Israeli businessman for 400 Palestinian and 23 Lebanese and other Arab prisoners in a German-brokered deal.