Nasrullah considers Israel's keeping of al-Qintar is foolish act; Lebanese captives are welcomed as heroes
Lebanon-Israel, Politics, 1/30/2004
Lebanon lived yesterday a special day, as the whole country, people and officials participated in celebrating the arrival of freed Lebanese captives held in Israeli jails.
Thousands of Lebanese crowded along the road leading to the airport and from there to al-Rweis where a large mass rally was held during which the secretary general of the Lebanese Hizbullah Party Hassan Nasrullah delivered a speech while the prisoners sat beside him with one chair is empty and big picture was placed on it for the oldest Lebanese prisoner who is still held in Israeli Samir al-Qintar.
Nasrullah reviewed several points he considered as important in this occasion. He said that humanitarian criterion governed the negotiations. He indicated that the question of the detainees between Lebanon and Israel are now governed by three elements: Samir al-Qintar, Nasim Naser and Yahya Skaf. He said that "enemy's keeping of Samir Qintar is a fool act for which Israel will be regretful. " He added decisively "I do not need to swear. But I would say that the option of capturing soldiers is still valid if other options are failed to liberate the prisoners and disclose the fate of the missing, noting that the party is still committed to the case of all detainees in the Israeli jails.
The exchange operation of prisoners started yesterday at dawn. After the arrival of the German plane which was carrying the Israel col. Al- Hanan Tananbaum and the bodies of the three soldiers at Collin airport, an Israeli security and medical team started to test the four. It said after 3 hours that it is proved the three bodies are for the three soldiers while Tananbaum was subjected to a medical test and a preliminary investigation, at a time when the representative of the Lebanese government lt. Gen. Jamil al-Sayyed and the chairman of the liaison committee in the Hizbullah party al-Haj Wafiq Safa are making sure of the situation of the Lebanese and Arab captives.
It was found out that two of the Lebanese refused to return back to Lebanon because they will be sued by criminal accusations, while the deal faced a problem that delayed the plane's departure for two hours, after the German Steven (Abdul Karim) Sneirak refused to return back to his house in Germany and his persistence to travel to Lebanon. At 7.10 p.m. ( Lebanon's local time) the German plane landed at its due place behind the Hall Of Honor, and minutes later the prisoners came out led by Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid and Mustafa al-Deirani and followed by other captives.
The three Lebanese leaders President Emil Lahoud, prime minister Rafic Hariri, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, and Nasrullah received the Lebanese captives while jeep cars of the security forces transported the other Arab captives from the back door of the plane to an unknown destination.
The Lebanese captives then moved to the hall of honor where their families were waiting for them. Then they had left in cars belonging to Hizbullah party to the suburb in order to take part in the mass rally, amid strong security measures and an intensive Media coverage.
Meantime, the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC received from the occupation authorities at al-Naqoura crossing the bodies of the 60 Lebanese and they were transported to a special square on the Lebanese side of the border, prepared by ICRC members in collaboration with the UN and Hizbullah security members.
Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces released some 401 Palestinians in the framework of the exchange operation, scores of them went to the headquarters of the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat who renewed his thanks to the Hizbullah Party for its efforts. The released captives crossed to the Palestinian self-rule areas through five military inspection points in the West Bank and Gaza and 57 of them released in Ramullah went in three buses to Arafat headquarters.
While Lebanon was celebrating the return back of its captives, the Israeli authorities held a sad reception for the bodies of its three soldiers and kept al-Hanan Tananabaum from the eyes of media people and prevented cameras from photographing him. Only the office of the spokesman for the Israeli government dispatched several pictures for his meeting with his family and then he was transmitted to a hospital in Sarafand military base.
The military censorship banned publishing any information relating to investigation with him.
At the official seen off ceremony, the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon talked about new capture operations for his soldiers. He said threatening "our preparedness to walk long in the road to sacrifice our captives should not mislead any body. The state of Israel will not permit any enemy nor any terrorist organization to kidnap and ransom to a methodology. There are methods we did not use but if conditions are repeated, God forbids, we will not hesitate to use it."
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