Israel has announced that three of its soldiers missing in Lebanon for more than a year, are probably dead.

The head of the Israeli military's personnel branch, Major General Gil Regev, told reporters in Tel Aviv Monday that the three soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon are almost certainly dead.

He said the assessment was based on new information, received in recent days, which he called "sensitive, secret, and very credible." General Regev did not release details about the information or how it was obtained.

He said the three were probably killed by a burst of gunfire at the time they were attacked, or shortly thereafter.

The three were kidnapped on October 7, last year, while on patrol near the Lebanese border.

Relatives of the men: Sergeant Major Omar Souad, Sergeant Binyamin Avraham and Sergeant Adi Avitan - have accused U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon of withholding information about the men's fate and obstructing efforts to determine their whereabouts.

Last July, the United Nations confirmed it held videotapes filmed by its personnel at the kidnap site after the abduction. The United Nations had previously denied that such tapes existed.

Hezbollah has repeatedly refused to allow officials from the Red Cross or other organizations to examine the soldiers.