Many people may have forgotten about the two Israeli soldiers whose capture last summer made a month of headlines and led to the next chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
But Monday night at GW Hillel, the families of the two kidnapped soldiers who catapulted Israel and Lebanon into a month-long deadly conflict spoke about their loved ones who, after eight months, have still not come home.
At the time of the capture in July, eight other soldiers were also kidnapped, all of whom died. But the families of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev still hold onto hope that their loved ones are alive.
“We hope, we assume they are alive,” said Omri Avni, the father-in-law of Goldwasser.
In mid-August, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution requiring the disarmament of Hezbollah – a Lebanese terrorist organization accused of the kidnapping. In return, the council asks for Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon and for the deployment of Lebanese soldiers.
The family members of the missing soldiers have been traveling around the world in attempts to gain international support for their efforts to locate the soldiers and lessen Hezbollah’s power in the region. Some of the family members met with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome earlier this month. They are also planning to meet with the U.N. Secretary General this week.
“We (would) like you to write letters and sign petitions to send to the U.N., your government and now to send to our Prime Minister,” Miki Goldwasser, captured soldier Ehud Goldwasser’s mother said.
While the families talked about the government support they have received, including its compliance with the U.N.-imposed ceasefire, they said nothing is as important as bringing the soldiers home.
“I thought the end of the war could mean the beginning of negotiations,” said Goldwasser.
“It has been more than seven months and we have no word, no progress. So we are pushing our government more,” Goldwasser said.
Both families told stories about their children and siblings, who they hope are now still alive. Ehud Goldwasser is an environmental engineer who loves photography and is “crazy about” motorbikes, his mother said.
Benny Regev, brother of captive soldier Eldad Regev, described his brother as a student at a university in Israel who was going into the army reserves for what should have been three weeks to serve his country.
The decision of the family members to come visit GW happened on short notice. Last Thursday, the families of the soldiers contacted the Student Alliance for Israel and requested to speak to a college audience before attending a Capitol Hill rally.
“So while this event happened pretty quickly with little planning on the GW end, it was a privilege to hear them speak to us on such an important issue not only facing Israel, but also the world,” sophomore Scott Leibowitz, President of Student Alliance for Israel, the group that help set up this event, wrote in an e-mail.
A group of about 40 students came to Hillel to talk with the families.
“It was so important to people eight months ago,” sophomore Warren Kessler said, referring to the conflict between Israel and Lebanon. “I just wanted to come hear about it first hand.”