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Sunday, June 29, 2008
Background: Shas voted for body-terrorist swap on basis of false premise

Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:

Background: Shas voted for body-terrorist swap on basis of false premise
that it was required in order to resolve the status of the wife of Ehud

This development raises serious questions regarding Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's
decision making process:

1. Did the people providing him information deceive him? If so, what will
stop them from deceiving him in the future when other critical decisions
must be made?

2. Is Rabbi Ovadia Yosef so isolated that he is unable to go "over the
heads" of those providing him with distorted information?

3. Worse: is it possible that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef opted to allow himself to
be deceived?

#1 The four Shas ministers - Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor Eli
Yishai, Minister of Religious Services Yitzhak Cohen, Communications
Minister Ariel Atias and Minister Without Portfolio Meshulam Nahari -back
the deal, this after their party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,
gave his consent.


Shas Chairman Yishai told Ynet that "the Israeli government is responsible
to end the anguish of the kidnapped soldiers' families. Moreover, Jewish Law
places great emphasis on releasing a woman from the status of being
abandoned, and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, holding this matter of chief concern,
instructed Shas' ministers to vote favorably."
Roni Sofer Ynet Published: 06.29.08, 00:26 / Israel News

#2 Brigadier-General Avi Ronsky tells his associates information presented
him enough to declare kidnapped IDF soldiers Regev, Goldwasser 'killed in
Ronen Bergman YNET Published: 06.29.08, 10:46 / Israel News

Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier-General Avi Ronsky reached a conclusion last
Tuesday night that the information presented to him is enough to declare
kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev
"killed in action".

According to his associates, however, Ronsky won't announce his decision
until after the government votes on a prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah.

The rabbi's aides have said that he told him the medical and intelligence
information presented to him last week convinced him that the two troops
were dead, but that he may wait with the announcement until Israel and
Hizbullah sign the swap deal.

The chief military rabbi held a series of meetings on Monday and Tuesday
with IDF intelligence and medical sources. These meetings were also attended
by a Mossad official in charge of the MIAs issue.

Ronsky also met with members of the Medical Corps' trauma unit, who formed a
medical opinion on the two captives' condition during the Second Lebanon

The rabbi was presented with a series of medical opinions, test results and
intelligence reports. He held discussions with all the relevant elements and
questioned them on the information they hold. While all elements agreed on
the tragic fate of one of the soldiers, the fate of the second captive was

The thick booklet presented to the rabbi by the unit for the location of
soldier missing in action contained reports written by the unit for missile
tests, the police's forensic and DNA labs, the trauma unit and forensic
medicine experts.

The main details included in the reports were published by Yedioth Ahronoth
on Sunday.

"During the incident and the injury, the (first) missing soldier was wearing
the examined bullet-proof vest. The damage caused to the car and to the
bullet-proof vest is compatible with the firing of RPG bombs. Therefore, it
should be concluded that the injuries to the missing soldier's body were
caused by a hollow explosive device.

"When the damaged bullet-proof vest was worn by a man whose body structure
is similar to that of the missing soldier, we discovered that the injury was
caused to the upper part of the chest. The injury caused to the missing
soldier could be extensive loss of blood, direct damage to the organs and
minor injury from shrapnel.

"Such an injury, as described, is a grave injury in any given situation,
which requires urgent and complex surgical treatment. The chance for a
person to survive such an injury without receiving immediate complex medical
treatment, which requires specialized surgical skills (namely, in an
operating room) are close to zero."

Mossad and Military Intelligence officials presented the chief military
rabbi with information suggesting the car carrying the abducted troops
arrived at a place where they could have received medical treatment
(although not of very high quality), bit that the vehicles left the area
less than an hour later. According to Medical Corps officials, this period
of time was not enough to stabilize the situation of the seriously injured

'The slightest chance soldier survived'
As for the second captive, the report said that "his blood was found on the
doorsill, on the ground and on the equipment tossed outside. This goes to
show that the missing soldier was injured inside the car.

"In addition, the blood stains found on the side of the equipment
compartment on the left point to shots fired from a weapon with high muzzle
velocity as the soldier was standing outside the vehicle. The soldier is
believed to have lost a lot of blood inside the vehicle. The large amount of
blood near the vehicle points to the place where he collapsed. This
indicates massive bleeding, apparently from a large blood vessel.

"A double injury (by RPG and high-speed bullets) to the upper part of the
body is a serious injury in any given situation and requires urgent and
complex surgical treatment. It is uncertain whether the missing soldier
survived the initial attack, and if the shots were fired at his chest, the
chances he survived are very small. Therefore, the missing soldier was at
least seriously injured, and his condition may be even more critical."

The trauma unit officials did not provide an unequivocal opinion regarding
the second captive, saying the there was "the slightest chance" that he
survived, despite the details described in the grave report.

The chief military rabbi was required to make a decision based on the
intelligence information presented on two levels. First, information
received during the war, which indicated that the kidnapped soldiers - or
their bodies - were taken to a Hizbullah medical facility in Baalbek. This
information led to a raid on the facility by an IDF elite unit, which did
not generate any new information on the captives.

The rabbi was also presented with "highly confidential" intelligence
information received after the war. Ronsky, who was one of the very few
people to receive access to this information, was deeply impressed by what
he was presented with.

The rabbi told his associates that the medical opinions regarding the first
missing soldier were enough, and that the profoundness and depth of the
intelligence information were enough to bridge the certain doubt regarding
the second captive. He concluded that it was possible to declare Regev and
Goldwasser dead.

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.

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