(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The Government of Israel, this evening (Monday), 15 October 2007, announces that an additional step has been carried out in the framework of the negotiations to return abducted soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Israel delivered to Hizbullah the bodies of two terrorists who belonged to the organization, who were killed during the Second Lebanon War, and one detainee who was released on medical grounds. In exchange, Hizbullah delivered to Israel the body of Israeli citizen Gabriel Dwait, who died in unclear circumstances and whose body drifted towards the Lebanese coast. His family, which lives in Be’er Sheva, has been duly notified.

This evening’s step constitutes an additional stage in the continuing UN-mediated negotiations for the return of the abducted soldiers. Even though it is still a long way to the conclusion of these negotiations, Israel expects that this evening’s significant step will serve to hasten the processes that have been underway for over a year.

The families of the abducted soldiers were updated on this evening’s move.

The IDF, Israel Police, Israel Prison Service, International Red Cross and several additional bodies, which are engaged in the intensive and complex UN-mediated negotiations with Hizbullah, took part in this evening’s steps. The entire process was approved by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Security Cabinet and is in accordance with the views of the relevant security and intelligence establishment bodies.

Prime Minister Olmert wishes to personally thank Ofer Dekel, the special coordinator on the return of the abducted soldiers, for his dedicated work. The Prime Minister would like to convey his condolences to the Dwait family and strengthen the Regev and Goldwasser families for their fortitude, restraint and exemplary conduct in light of the harsh circumstances. He hopes that we will soon see Eldad and Ehud back home.