Sunday, June 29, 2008

IDF Chief Rabbi Ronsky Convinced Captives are Dead

Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel

Aides close to IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Avi Ronsky stated that he is “convinced” the IDF soldiers captive in Lebanon are dead. He apparently reached the conclusion last Tuesday night after reviewing the available intelligence information, which he believes is sufficient to declare the kidnapped IDF reservists as “killed in action.” However, associates close to Ronsky said he won’t announce his decision until the government votes on a prisoner exchange deal with the Hizbullah being discussed currently in a long Sunday Cabinet meeting. Rabbi Ronsky has met with IDF Intelligence and Medical Corps personnel, as well as the Mossad official responsible for the MIAs, who gave him information on the status of the abducted soldiers that led to his decision. Extensive reports, including the analysis of trauma experts, police forensics units, DNA laboratory evidence, and the IDF’s missile research unit, led Rabbi Ronsky to believe that the tragic fate of one of the soldiers is certain, and that of the second is almost as clear.

Part of the information received led to the IDF raid on a hospital facility in Baalbek during the closing days of the war, which indicated that the wounded soldiers or their bodies had been transferred there. Information from the various sources revealed that one soldier's vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, and that he sustained critical upper body injuries. Research also suggested that although he could have been treated at the medical site to which he was abducted after the attack, he was transferred from the site too quickly to have received the "immediate and complex medical treatment" required to have saved his life.

As far as the fate of the other soldier, experts concluded that although he sustained injuries similar in severity to the first, there is a very small chance that he may still be alive.

As part of his briefing, the chief military rabbi also received access to “highly confidential” intelligence information received after the war. As one of the few people exposed to this, Rabbi Ronsky indicated he was very impressed by the depth of information he was given.

However, sources in the Military Rabbinate said that Ronsky was enraged over the fact that the intelligence information, which is not new, was only brought to his attention last week. Based on all of the above information, he concluded that despite lingering hopes that at least one of the soldiers was still alive, the depth and scope of information given to him was enough to declare both Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser dead.

Ronsky's belief echoes reports from last Thursday, when Mossad chief Maj. Gen. Meir Dagan informed the Regev family in a closed-door meeting that it is his belief that both men are dead.

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