Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Israel moves prisoners, bodies ahead of swap

ROSH HANIKRA, Israel (AP) — Israel moved five Lebanese prisoners to a military base near the Lebanese border before dawn Wednesday, preparing to trade them for two Israeli soldiers captured by Lebanese guerrillas two years ago.

The day promised to be fraught with tension and tears in Israel, where the servicemen were presumed to be dead. In Lebanon, militant Samir Kantar was expected to receive a hero's welcome upon his return to his homeland after being convicted in a deadly 1979 rampage.

Setting aside decades of resistance and breaking what had been a long-held taboo, Israel's Cabinet gave final approval Tuesday to free Kantar.

In exchange, it expects to receive the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. They haven't been seen since Hezbollah guerrillas captured them two years ago in a cross-border raid, touching off a bitter monthlong war between the militant group and Israel.

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