Israel: Hezbollah-Captured Soldiers Suffered Serious Injuries

The two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah guerrillas last summer suffered serious injuries in the attack that sparked a monthlong war, military officials said Wednesday, providing the first details of the conditions of the men when they were seized.

One of the soldiers was in critical condition after Hezbollah launched its cross-border attack on July 12, while the other was seriously wounded, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity under military rules. Military censors had previously prohibited publication of their conditions.

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Hezbollah continues to hold the men but has not released any details on their conditions or whereabouts and not provided any signs that they are alive.

Three soldiers were killed in the attack, and it was widely believed that the two captured soldiers were wounded after a fierce battle at the scene. But the military was unsure of their conditions until it completed an investigation several weeks after the incident.

The attack sparked a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah. More than 1,000 people were killed on both sides, according to the U.N. and Israeli and Lebanese officials.

Lebanon says most of those killed were civilians. Israel claims 800 Hezbollah fighters were killed, though that figure was not substantiated. On the Israeli side, 159 people were killed, including 39 soldiers.

Hezbollah has demanded that Israel release Arab prisoners in exchange for the missing servicemen. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has demanded that Hezbollah provide signs of life before considering a deal.

The U.N.-brokered cease-fire that ended the war calls for the unconditional release of the soldiers. Under the cease-fire, a beefed-up U.N. peacekeeping force, along with Lebanese government troops, is policing the border with Israel.