Israel Hands Over Hizbullah Kidnappers´ Bodies
Israel handed over the bodies of three Hizbullah terrorists who were killed Monday while trying to kidnap IDF soldiers near the village of Rajar.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 11/25/2005, 9:13 AM / Last Update: 11/25/2005, 8:49 AM
Lebanese politicians affiliated with the Hizbullah terror group threatened in recent days that Israelis would be kidnapped to win the release of the bodies. The IDF originally denied reports that a handover was being negotiated, but after the deal was finalized began informing journalists of the media event.
"Press wishing to cover the transfer of the bodies of the three Hizbullah terrorists killed in an attempt to kidnap IDF soldiers on November 21, 2005, are requested to arrive at the 'Rosh HaNikra' crossing at 9:30 AM [Friday], November 25, 2005," a message sent to journalists Thursday night read. Another statement issued on the matter said the handover follows a "formal request made by the Lebanese government."
Israel Radio attributed to "security sources" the claim that the Lebanese request for the bodies was a "positive sign that it seeks to take responsibility for its borders."
However, the Lebanese government minister behind the request, Health Minister Muhammad Jawad Khalif, who is closely affiliated with Hizbullah, clearly threatened further kidnapping attempts on Lebanon's state-run radio if the bodies would not be returned. “[Hizbullah] will try to secure the return of the bodies one way or another,” he said, “which usually ends in negotiations to exchange them for the bodies of Israeli soldiers or prisoners."
Simultaneously, the anti-terror command of the Prime Minister's Office issued a warning to Israelis Thursday, advising those traveling overseas to be on the lookout for a heightened kidnapping threat and to take the necessary precautions. Channel 10 reported that the warning is not based on concrete intelligence information, but on the defense establishment's assessment that Hizbullah will try to make up for Monday’s failed kidnapping attempt. Other Israeli media said that there was genuine hot information regarding kidnapping an Israeli civilian.
Asked by Arutz-7 about the logic of handing over the bodies of Hizbullah kidnappers under threat of further kidnappings and without a demand for information on missing Israeli airman Ron Arad, an IDF spokesperson said that the IDF was not responsible for the deal. "Those questions should be answered by the Ministry of Defense," the spokesperson said, adding that IDF officials were consulted, but were not pleased with the arrangement.