Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 23:24 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 23:24 | SYDNEY

Israel-Hizbullah: The swap


Rodger Shanahan


18 July 2008 10:20

This week’s exchange of Hizbullah prisoners (including that of the notorious Samir Quntar) for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed by Hizbullah in 2006 indicates the varied forces at play in both Lebanese and Israeli society. The solemnity of the handover and acceptance of the bodies, as well as the introspection in Israeli society at the appropriateness of the exchange, stood in stark contrast to the jubilant scenes that awaited the Hizbullah prisoners both in the south and later in Beirut on their arrival.

For Israelis, while the recovery of the bodies was welcomed for the closure it brought grieving families, questions remain over the price paid. Those doubts were surely exacerbated by the fact that the Hizbullah prisoners were welcomed back not only by their co-religionists and party faithful, but by the Lebanese president, prime minister, speaker and cabinet.

Hizbullah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has once again reverted to his role as putative Lebanese nationalist leader, a few short months after his men took up arms against their fellow Lebanese in west Beirut and two years after his party precipitated a war with Israel that proved disastrous for Lebanon. Introspection is certainly not being practiced in the southern suburbs of Beirut this week.