Daily Star (Lebanon) Hizbullah’s secretary-general said on Sunday that his group would abduct more Israelis unless there was a breakthrough in stalled prisoner swap talks and refused to confirm whether four Israelis held by the resistance movement were still alive. “We will give the negotiations over detainees and prisoners a last chance,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told supporters at a rally in Jibsheet, Nabatieh, marking the 14th anniversary of the abduction of Hizbullah official Sheikh Abdel-Karim Obeid from his village by Israeli commandos.
“If this chance passes, the negotiations will have reached a dead end according to us and that the existing number of detainees in our hands is not enough to carry out successful negotiations and a full exchange,” he said. “The alternative is not to back down but to work night and day to let the Islamic Resistance hold in its clutches new Israeli detainees.”
The two sides have negotiated sporadically, with German mediation, over a possible exchange of three Israeli soldiers held by the group in exchange for Lebanese and other Arab detainees in Israeli jails, including Obeid. Hizbullah, backed by the Lebanese government, calls for the release of about 20 Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails. Israel admits holding only 15 Lebanese detainees.
The resistance movement began demanding the release of Palestinians too after it seized the three Israeli soldiers in October 2000.
A few weeks later, Hizbullah said it had captured reserve officer Elhanan Tenenbaum, whom it said was a Mossad agent. Nasrallah said he could no longer confirm that Tenenbaum was alive, saying he could have been killed “while we were confronting the enemy” after his seizure. He also urged German mediators to reopen prisoner swap talks for the “last” time.