Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Israeli Chief Military Rabbi Given Sensitive Task As To Kidnapped Soldiers

The Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, Brig. Gen. Avichai Ronski finds himself in the middle of a highly charged political situation. In July 2006, two IDF soldiers were kidnapped by Hizbullah in a cross-border raid from Lebanon. (Background.) Ever since, the fate of Sgt. Ehud Goldwasser and St.-Sgt. Eldad Regev has captured the attention of the Israeli public. Now amidst reports that a deal between Israel and Hizbollah relating to the two soldiers is in the offing, Rabbi Ronski has been given the task of deciding whether there is enough evidence to declare that Regev and Goldwasser-- currently listed as missing in action-- can be presumed dead.

Arutz Sheva reported yesterday that the IDF Chief Rabbi, as the military's highest religious authority, is generally the one given this task-- usually after intelligence services have concluded that individuals are not alive. However, Ehud Goldwasser's family may petition the High Court of Justice to prevent the IDF from beginning the process of determining whether the men should be classified as dead. Meanwhile, Haaretz says the fact that the men's files have been turned over to the Chief Rabbi signals that the deal with Hezbollah will not happen. It reports that intelligence officials object to releasing terrorist Samir Kuntar as part of the deal without resolution of the fate of a third missing Israeli, airman Ron Arad.