There has been a very subtle change in the rhetoric as the time approaches for the two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah to be returned to Israel. The capture of the two conscripts was the Israeli stated casus belli for the attack on Lebanon in July 2006. The Israelis claimed that the two were captured after a skirmish between Hezbollah fighters and an Israeli patrol on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon. However, initial reports even in the Western mainstream media said that the two soldiers were captured just inside the Lebanese border at Aitaa al-Chaab. Israel then insisted that they were captured on the Israeli side of the border and the compliant western media quickly went along with the Israeli version of events ignoring entirely their earlier reports as though it never happened the way they first reported it, and hoping no one would notice.
Now that the time has approached where it is likely that the two will be returned to Israel, there has been some speculation that Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, will give a speech celebrating the release of Hezbollah prisoners from Israel and the bodies of the many Hezbollah fighters taken by the Israelis during the war. It has been further speculated that, in this speech, Nasrallah may give some explanation of how the two were captured. In anticipation of this the Israelis are now slightly adjusting the rhetoric of their version of events. Whereas before they were saying the two were ‘kidnapped’ from inside Israel, the ‘Jerusalem Post’ is now saying that the two were taken on the border.
‘Ha’aretz’, meanwhile, in a report on the upcoming exchange said: “…a prisoner swap which would see the return of two Israel Defense Forces reservists whose abduction by Hezbollah sparked the Second Lebanon War in 2006.” It’s what the report subtly didn’t say that is important here; no mention is made of where they were captured, only that they were ‘abducted’.
The Israelis are still not conceding that the two soldiers were captured inside Lebanon but ‘on the border’ and just plain ‘abducted’ is a step removed from ‘inside Israel’ which they had originally insisted on and used to justify their attack on the Lebanese people.
Whether or not Nasrallah does allude to how the two Israeli soldiers were captured remains to be seen but it certainly looks as though the Israelis are preparing their propaganda and rhetoric in advance of a possible revelation of the truth.