Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Progress Reported Over Release of Kidnapped IDF Soldiers
After Lebanese reports of an impending deal between Israel and Hizb'Allah terrorists to exchange captives and detainees, Israeli security sources have confirmed that Jerusalem is continuing to try various channels in an effort to find a solution.
Lebanese sources have widely reported that an exchange deal to win the release of four Israelis held by Hizb'Allah was put together during German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's visit to Israel and Lebanon in October. According to these sources, the three IDF soldiers who were abducted on October 7, and Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum who was abducted in Europe one week later, are to be exchanged for 19 Hizb'Allah members.
An uncle of one of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers says that no new information has reached the soldiers' families however, and that he is pessimistic regarding progress on their release.
Nonetheless, Israeli media has cited several Lebanese news reports saying there had been marked progress in German-mediated negotiations between Israel and Hizb'Allah over a possible prisoner exchange, and that a final agreement could be reached within 10 days. A Lebanese TV station reported today that a delegation of German mediators had met two days ago with Hizb'Allah security officials.
Hizb'Allah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah confirmed Sunday in Beirut that the Germans are mediating. Nasrallah said that his organization had notified Germany of its demands and that the success of the mediation efforts depended entirely on Israel's willingness to accept its demands.
Israeli President Moshe Katsav said on Saturday that Germany has sought to use its influence and "undertook a new initiative this week and passed on the message that we are ready to make agreements to ensure the welfare of the three soldiers." Katsav cited the kidnapping as one reason why Israel is opposed to a UN force in Israel: "There are UN troops in south Lebanon. We withdrew from there, just as the United Nations demanded. But Israeli soldiers were kidnapped under the very eyes of the UN."
Last year, Germany mediated the release of five Lebanese gunmen jailed without trial in Israel. Hizb'Allah has refused to disclose any information on the condition of the three soldiers' held, and has refused access to Red Cross officials. The three families met with Red Cross representatives at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv today, and requested that the Red Cross assure the soldiers' safety, and that religious items be delivered to them.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.