The prisoner exchange deal An IDF delegation heads to Cologne, Germany in order to exchange prisoners with the terrorist organization “Hezbulla”.

According to the terms agreed upon, the “Hezbulla” organization will release to Israel the bodies of the three IDF soldiers kidnapped in Mt..Dov and the Israeli citizen Elhanan Tenenbaum. In exchange, the Israeli government will release to the “Hezbulla” a group of prisoners, among them the Sheikh Abed el Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, which were kidnapped from Lebanon to be used as bargaining chips for the release of Ron Arad,  an Israeli Airman held captive by the “Hezbulla” since 1986.  During the briefing conducted several hours prior to the departure of the delegation, the International squadron commander stressed the different stages of the operation, starting from the prisoner boarding at Ben-Gurion airport, including the exchange procedure in Germany and the landing in Israel. The loadmasters unit commander reviewed the logistical part of the operation which included modifying the Boeing 707 aircraft to prisoner transport configuration and the implications thereof.

Upon landing, the Boeing 707 was directed to a large hanger where the prisoner exchange was held. Professor Yehuda Hiss and his staff from the Institute of Forensic Medicine labored for four hours to identifiy of bodies of Staff Sergeants Adi Avitan, Beny Avraham and Omer Soaad. After the bodies were identified, the prisoners began to disembark from the airplane and board the German aircraft, which carried them to Lebanon. The first to deplane were Abd Al-Karim and Mustafa Dirani. Following them was the German Stephan Smirk, a young German recruited by the “Hezbulla” to commit an act of terror in Israel.

At that point the kidnapped citizen Elhanan Tenenbaum was transferred to Israeli hands. After all the equipment brought from Israel was packed and loaded on another Boeing 707 aircraft, a short military ceremony was held at the scene. A military Rabbi read “El Male Rahamim” and the Kaddish prayer, and the three coffins were then loaded into the aircraft’s cargo hold. Half an hour later the plane flew back to Israel