As for what will happen on the ground in the months to come, there is much room for speculation. But, as a point of reflection, one may look to the nature of Hezbollah's past moves.
"What we say is the following: These two prisoners of war, who we now have, will not return to their home except by one means – indirect negotiations and a prisoner exchange, wa'salam (and peace). No one in this entire existence will return them to their homes, except through indirect negotiations and a prisoner exchange. If the Israeli is thinking of any military incursion – with the goal of returning the prisoners – then he is delusional, delusional, delusional…until out of breath."
These were the words of Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah organization, on July 12, 2006.
Only a few hours later, Israel began to escalate from its traditional retaliation (border-area bomb-shelling) to a full-scale military strike against the sovereign nation of Lebanon. It was the beginning of the 2006 July War (the Second Lebanon War).
It was not long before the Lebanese shores were dotted with Israeli battleships on the horizon. Bridges, main roads, and gas stations were the first targets of Israeli jets flying overhead. Within a few days, the area of South Lebanon was essentially isolated from the rest of Lebanon. Any moving vehicle was targeted by Israeli warplanes. Every building which Israel suspected had links to the Lebanese Islamic Resistance was on the list of potential targets.
As for the terrestrial attack, Israel was out of luck even until the last days of the 33-day-long war. With every limited incursion of the Israeli army, the Lebanese Resistance took the opportunity to add an extra Merkava to its tally of destroyed Israeli tanks. 33 days later, not effectively achieving any of its goals, Israel agreed to cease "aggressive military acts".
Two years later, news has it that in the next few days, the prisoner-exchange between the Lebanese Resistance and Israel will be under way. So it seems that the Israeli prisoners will go home precisely in the way described by Hezbollah's Secretary General – after "indirect negotiations and a prisoner exchange."
The political significance of this prisoner exchange crosses the borders of Lebanon to encompass the entire Arab and Muslim world. For the first time in the Arab-Israeli conflict, an Arab country is able to close the file of its prisoners of war – through the actions of its popular resistance.
The importance of this prisoner exchange may become apparent with the potential exchange between the Palestinian Hamas and Israel in the near future.
Many see that the accomplishments of the Lebanese Resistance, specifically the prisoner exchange, boost the morale of every Arab, Muslim, and honorable human being on the face of the globe. Some analysts argue, therefore, that the prisoner exchange puts Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a compromising situation.
In Olmert's own words, relayed through his spokesman, "There will be much sadness in Israel, much humiliation, considering the celebrations that will be held on the other side."
Some may wonder, "What comes next?" In the next round of confrontation between the Lebanese Resistance and Israel, there are two main unresolved issues. The first would be the occupied Shebaa Farms. The second would be the aftermath of assassinating a major resistance leader, Imad Mughniyeh, which Hezbollah openly declares it will retaliate for.
As for what will happen on the ground in the months to come, there is much room for speculation. But, as a point of reflection, one may look to the nature of Hezbollah's past moves. Cited from Haaretz.com: "Speaking at the site of the abduction near Moshav Zarit on the Lebanese border, Dudu Lubratzki, a friend of the pair's from their reservist company, said: 'When you stand on this spot, it is hard to grasp how all this happened, how Hezbollah men stood and reconnoitered from within the bushes, within territory under Israeli sovereignty.'"