November 29, 2006

Red Cross: No signs of life from abducted IDF troops in Lebanon

The Red Cross has been unable to transfer letters written by their families to the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah last summer, nor was it able to obtain any signs of life from Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, a Red Cross official told representatives of the families in Brussels on Tuesday.

Though the organization promised to keep trying, Goldwasser's mother Miki was infuriated by the news. It is inconceivable, she said, that the Red Cross could not transmit letters to her sons through Hezbollah when the organization is an official party that sits in Lebanon's parliament.

The families, who arrived in Brussels on Tuesday, also met with the speaker of the Belgian parliament, who promised to try and obtain information about the soldiers from his Lebanese counterpart, Nabih Berri.

The Goldwasser and Regev families, along with Noam Shalit - whose son Gilad was kidnapped to Gaza last June - have arranged a series of meetings in Brussels, and on Wednesday they are also planning to attend a large solidarity rally organized by European Jewish Organizations. The rally will take place opposite the European Parliament at 2 P.M. Brussels time, exactly when that body is due to begin its session. Organizers are expecting thousands of Jews from several European states to attend.

"European countries have a great deal of influence over what happens in Lebanon," said Omri Avni, whose daughter Karnit is married to Ehud Goldwasser, in explaining why the families decided to go to Brussels. "It was Europe that pushed for a cease-fire and [UN] Security Council Resolution 1701, which requires the release of the kidnapped soldiers. Therefore, it must take responsibility and use all its powers to advance the matter."

Both Miki Goldwasser and her husband, Shlomo, said they were disappointed with the Europeans' failure even to obtain a sign of life from the soldiers.