Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Lebanese state's abandoned role in Hezbollah - Israel exchange of prisoners and bodies!!

The Lebanese state's abandoned role in  Hezbollah - Israel exchange of prisoners and bodies!!
By: Elias Bejjani
LCCC Chairman
October 18/07

Worldwide news agencies published on October 16, 2007 the following Report: (Israel and Hezbollah carried out a prisoner swap on Monday. The Jewish state handed over the bodies of two militants and a prisoner in exchange for the remains of an Israeli man. The exchange of bodies and a prisoner swap took place at the Naqura crossing between Israel and Lebanon," The two Hezbollah fighters were killed during the 34-day war in Lebanon last summer between the Shiite militant group and Israel. The prisoner to be released was believed to be a militant seized during the war. The dead Israeli was an Ethiopian immigrant who drowned in Israel in 2005 and whose body was swept north to the Lebanese coast, where it was recovered by Hezbollah, the source said.
There had been hopes that the prisoner swap would include two Israeli servicemen, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose capture in July 2006 triggered last year's war. An army report released last December said that the two soldiers were wounded, one seriously and another moderately, in the cross-border attack that led to their seizure. Israel is also seeking the return of the bodies of five soldiers which have never been recovered since their deaths during Israel's 1982 onslaught in Lebanon. The Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Sunday that the two Israeli soldiers held by Hezbollah had been handed over to Iran and could be freed in a German-brokered swap. It quoted a source it identified as a high-ranking official in the office of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying the pair had been transferred to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards. The source claimed that the soldiers could be part of an exchange involving Germany, which decided last week to free an Iranian agent jailed for life for the 1992 murder of four Kurdish dissidents.
On January 29, 2004, Israel freed nearly 450 prisoners, most of them Palestinians and Arabs, in exchange for an Israeli businessman, Elhanan Tannenbaum, and the bodies of three soldiers. The exchange was brokered by German intelligence chief Ernst Uhrlau.
As part of the swap, Israel agreed to free Lebanese prisoner Samir Kantar at a later date in return for information on the fate of Arad. The 41-year-old Kantar was handed down jail sentences totaling 542 years by an Israeli court in 1980 for infiltrating a northern seaside resort and killing a scientist and his four-year-old daughter and an Israeli policeman. Hezbollah is also seeking the release of four Iranian diplomats believed to have been handed over to Israel by a Lebanese Christian militia after their capture in 1982. Hezbollah will provide information on Israeli airman Ron Arad, missing for more than 20 years, as part of a swap deal between the Jewish state and the militant party, an Israeli official said on Monday." As part of the exchange deal, Hezbollah will provide Israel with information on Ron Arad," an official told AFP on condition of anonymity).

As a Lebanese Canadian Non Profit organization whose prime objectives are advocacy for human rights, freedoms and democracy, we welcome all genuine human efforts and endeavors that ultimately leads to the release of prisoners or hostages, and to the whereabouts and fate of any those abducted, as well as the retrieval and delivery of soldiers or civilians remains to their families or countries, but at the same time we believe it is extremely essential that those carrying such activities must abide by a set of judicial, human rights, ethical and security standards,  so as not to reward terrorism and encourage terrorists.

The following are our observations and suggestions from the Lebanese Canadian Coordination Council (LCCC) on the exchange of prisoners and bodies between Israel and Hezbollah through Germany's mediation:

1-It was shocking, sad and extremely disappointing to learn that the Lebanese legitimate authorities and on all levels were entirely absent from the exchange process, and more regrettable was the fact that certain free world countries, well known Human Rights countries and peace advocacy bodies have willingly participated in the process without even making the Lebanese government aware of their activities, while dealing with a terrorist organization and giving its atrocities an umbrella of recognition and legitimacy. 

Meanwhile what was actually bizarre and confusing lies in the Laissez Faire condemned position that the Lebanese Government adopted. It did not only be absent and abandon its responsibilities, but even announced its indifference and irresponsibility when its Interior Minister announced publicly: "Our brothers in Hezbollah notified us 24 hours before the exchange process took place".

2-We hold fully responsible for this kind of unacceptable conduct with a terrorist group, all free world countries and  humanitarian - international Organizations who  played any role, direct or indirect in the exchange process without the consent of the legitimate Lebanese authorities in advance. All those involved overtly or covertly have in reality sided and supported the Hezbollah terrorist organization in particular, and the global fundamentalism and terrorism in general. They haves strongly contributed to strengthen the "illegal mini Hezbollah" state that Iran and Syria had erected in Lebanon, on the account of the legitimate Central Lebanese government. They have openly and bluntly infringed the Charter of the United Nations and negated all strategies and efforts tailored to combat global terrorism and fundamentalism. They have explicitly granted their recognition to a terrorist organization (Hezbollah) that is a militant spearhead in Lebanon for the axis of evil countries (Syria and Iran), who fully  sponsor, manipulate , fund and control  its decision making process on all levels and domains.

3-It is worth mentioning that the global war against terrorism and fundamentalism cannot achieve any positive results if the free world countries and all Humanitarian, judicial and international organizations are not united and their activities well defined and abided by. All those involved or concerned in this fight must be committed by all related international obligations, disciplines, laws and ethics,  and most importantly not to succumb to terrorists' threats under any circumstance and not offer its leaders or sponsors any form of legitimacy.

4-We call on the United Nations and all countries that have contributed by any means and on any level in the Hezbollah-Israeli prisoners-bodies exchange process to refrain in future from any such activities and to develop a set of well defined policies and strategies that governs all contacts with terrorist groups.
We call on all of them to limit their future contacts in any similar exchange process with the Lebanese legitimate state.

5- All concerned countries, organizations and individuals in Lebanon, the Middle East, The Arab states and the free world MUST be fully aware that the ongoing conflict in Lebanon is between the legitimate State of Lebanon and the "Mini Hezbollah State" that Iran and Syria had erected inside Lebanon. The conflict does not revolve only on the fate and future of democracy, freedoms and rights in Lebanon, but also on the fate of the Middle East peace process, and all efforts to combat international terrorism. . Accordingly, any endorsement or support  to the "Hezbollah Mini fundamental state", or even any kind of cajoling or appeasement to its  leaders or to the axis of evil two countries (Syria and Iran) is in reality an infringement to all peace efforts and a crime against humanity.

**Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website


1 comment:

JeffMichell said...

The Murder of Jewish Toddlers!
What Hezbollah is all about!

On July 12, 2006 Lebanese Hezbollah militants crossed the border with Israel in an operation dubbed "Operation Truthful Promise," which was aimed at nabbing Israeli soldiers in exchange for Lebanese prisoners. Hezbollah succeeded in the operation and successfully took hostage two Israeli soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. During the operation, eight Israeli soldiers were killed. This ignited the sequence of events which led to the Israel/Lebanon summer war.
The story goes further back than July of 2006. It really began in April 1979! On Sabbath day, April 22, 1979, Danny and Smadar Haran met up with a monster named Samir Kuntar.
Danny and Smadar were a loving Israeli couple. They had everything they could ever hope for... love, marriage and two precious daughters, Einat, 4 and Yael, 2. That day Smadar was home anticipating Danny's return from work and preparing for the Sabbath. She had just picked up their two toddlers from day care. Danny, on the other hand, was looking forward to nothing more than getting home and spending time with his wife and his two young daughters.
Traditionally, the Sabbath is the most special day of the week, the day the family gets to spend time together and celebrate their bond to Judaism. It was especially important for Danny who, as a young father, had to work extra hard in order to provide for his wife and young children. Little did Smadar know that this would be the last Sabbath she would celebrate with her family because of a man named Samir Kuntar. Around midnight the nightmare began!

What's the deal with Samir Kuntar?

Since April 22, 1979 Samir Kuntar has been incarcerated in an Israeli prison. Samir Kuntar, a Druze from the Lebanese mountain village of Aabey , who currently holds the dubious distinction of being the longest held Lebanese prisoner in Israeli jails. Kuntar is currently ONE of THREE Lebanese prisoners still serving time in Israeli jails. Kuntar was convicted and sentenced to a 542 years prison sentence by the state of Israel . Israel even almost tried to pass a bill to have him executed! What did he do? What was his crime? The crime Kuntar committed was one of the most sickest, heinous, barbaric crime ever committed on Israeli soil.

The crime took place on April 22, 1979 when Kuntar and a group of 3 other terrorists, all members of Abu Abbas PLF (Palestinian Liberation Front), infiltrated the Israeli coastal city of Naharya and broke into the Haran family apartment and took Danny Haran and his 4 year old daughter Einat Haran hostage. When Kuntar and his gang broke into the apartment, the wife, Smadar Haran and her 2 year old daughter Yael, were also present in the apartment. Smadar managed to find a crawl space into which she, her younger daughter, 2 year old Yael, and a neighbor all hid. To prevent Yael from crying and giving away their hiding place, Smadar covered the child's mouth with her hand.

Meanwhile Kuntar took Danny and little Einat down to the beach. At the beach Kuntar shot Danny in the back, Danny survived the gun shot, but moments later Kuntar began struggling with him in order to drown him in the sea. All this was witnessed by 4 year old Einat. Kuntar forced her to watch “Danny was murdered in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see.” After Kuntar succeeded in drowning Danny, he took little Einat, laid her down on a rock, while she was crying hysterically and begging him not to hurt her, and then smashed her head with the butt of his rifle. She didn’t die right away after the first blow, so Kuntar beat her with the butt of his rifle repeatedly over and over again to ensure she was dead.

Meanwhile in the apartment, Smadar's attempt to muffle her daughter's whimpering proved fatal. Yael was accidentally suffocated and died within the hiding space.

And on July 12, 2006, the ONLY reason why Ehud Goldawasser and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hezbollah, was to force Israel to release/surrender Samir Kuntar.

Now the dilemma is, should Israel release Samir Kuntar in order to gain the release of Goldwasser and Regev? Unfortunately Kuntar might be freed in the next couple of days in exchange for these two soldiers, or their caskets, since there hasn’t been even one sign of life since their kidnapping on July 12th. For those who didn’t know, Samir Kuntar was the only reason that’s been holding back the release of Goldwasser and Regev, for almost a year and a half.

The nerve of Hezbollah to honor a child killer like Kuntar. The nerve of Hezbollah to kidnap two Israeli soldiers in order to force Israel to release a child murderer from jail! This is what Hezbollah is all about.

The July 12, 2006 abduction was originally named “Operation Freedom Samir Kuntar,” by Hezbollah. But days before the kidnapping Hezbollah changed the name of the operation to “Operation Truthful Promise,” due to the fact that Nasrallah made a true promise to the family of Samir Kuntar to have him freed from jail.

In September 2000, three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hizbollah, along with an Israeli businessman, Elhanan Tennenbaum. Nasrallah immediately demanded Israel release all its Lebanese prisoners INCLUDING Samir Kuntar. In 2004 Israel was holding a TOTAL of 26 Lebanese prisoners. That same year, 23 out of those 26 prisoners were released, in order to secure the release of those 3 IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers as well and Elhanan Tennenbaum. This prisoner exchange also had a second phase, which involved Hezbollah providing solid evidence on the fate of Ron Arad (the Israeli pilot who went missing in Lebanon in 1986) and in exchange, Israel would release the 24th Lebanese prisoner, Samir Kuntar! Hezbollah failed to deliver the information on Arad, and the deal was off.

In 2006, when Goldwasser and Regev were kidnapped Israel was out of bargain chips, its only choice in order to gain information on the fate of these two soldiers is the release Samir Kuntar. Who even knows if Goldwasser and Regev are alive! Let’s not forget, the four years prior to the “infamous Israel-Hezbollah prisoner exchange of 2004,” Israel had no idea on the fate of their soldiers until the day of the exchange. Only on the day of the exchange Israel found out, they would receive 3 caskets instead of 3 soldiers.

It is beyond sickening, a man who beat to death a little toddler is celebrated for his glorious deed. Kuntar has been dubbed by some parts of the Arab world as the “Dean of World Prisoners.” Who would imagine? Hezbollah crossing the border into Israel, killing four Israeli soldiers and kidnapping 2 more, going through all this trouble, JUST to free a child killer!

There is another point worth mentioning. Hezbollah has never claimed that Kuntar was innocent or that he may have been framed. They only demand his release as if he were being held unlawfully and that Israel had no right to imprison him.

Kuntar is probably the most hated person by the Israeli public. He is known as the “killer of Nahrya” instead of “terrorist of Nahrya.” And to think that this person is being released under the context of threat, extortion, and blackmail! If it wasn’t for kidnapping of soldiers, Kuntar would have continued to serve out his sentence.

Israel has an extensive history of releasing prisoner with blood on their hands, it has been done in the past and most expect that, it would happen again. This time with Kuntar. It is important to keep in mind that prisoners who are in Israeli jails are serving time for something. Israel is not a "gangster" or "lawless" state that imprisons people based solely on a whim. Every prisoner was charged, stood trail, convicted and properly sentenced. They were not kidnapped simply because they were Arabs. Hence, there is no justification in comparing the kidnapped Israeli soldiers to Samir Kuntar.

There is a fine line between a humanitarian release of prisoners or releasing prisoners for the sake of peace AND knuckling under to unadulterated extortion. There is also a huge difference between someone with hatred in his head and he who has blood on his hands! Nobody expects that someone like Kuntar who is released will become Lovers of Israel! But someone and others like Kuntar who have committed murder or collaborated in the planning of that murder should be considered an unacceptable risk. It goes beyond forgiving terrorism. It becomes an abetting in any future terrorism carried out by those released. Israel will viewed as a weak state that can be brought to its knees by extortion.

If Israel was to release Kuntar it would be the biggest thing they ever surrendered! The Sinai Peninsula, Israel gave back under negotiations, the West Bank and Gaza Israel also gave back under negotiations of the Oslo Accords. In 1985 during the famous “Ahmed Jibril Exchange” Israel released 1200 prisoners for the release of 3 IDF soldiers, some of those prisoners who were released had blood on their hands including Kozo Okamoto who killed 22 Israelis. BUT even all those 1200 prisoners put together, cannot compare to the savage murderous act committed by Samir Kuntar. Israel also currently holds 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of which have been incarcerated for conspiring, carrying out, and masterminding murderous terrorist attacks (suicide bombings, shootings, etc…), which targeted Jewish civilians in Israel. BUT even all those 10,000 prisoners put together cannot compare to Kuntar.
Kuntar could have shot little Einat or blown her up, but instead he took his loaded gun and just bludgeoned her on the head repeatedly for several minutes until she was dead! Lets not also forget, the fact, that several minutes prior to murdering Einat, Kuntar drowned her father in front of her, and forced her to watch.

Anyone, who reads this article and does not shed a tear, is not a human being.

What kind of country is this to release a child murderer from jail under the context of threat and extortion? If we release Kuntar, we know what message it sends to Hezbollah and other terror groups like Hamas, etc… But what obscene messages does it send to the families of those Israeli murdered, especially Smadar Haran whose daughter was beaten to death by a man who hates Jews. What Kuntar did was not only a terrorist act but should also be considered a criminal act. And what demoralizing message does it send to the Israeli troops and security services who risked their lives in order to capture and arrest the terrorists?
There is no doubt that Goldwasser and Regev need to be unconditionally released from Lebanon, Syria, Iran or from wherever they are now being held. Olmert's "good will gesture" has disaster written all over it. Appeasement didn't work with Hitler and it will not work with Hezbollah. "Negotiations" will not work either for over what exactly is there to negotiate? How far will Israel go to assure its own disappearance?

There will be nothing positive coming out of the release of Kuntar. There is no worst context of releasing prisoners than under the context of threat. But today October 15, 2007 there is chatter within Israel to drop the demand for Ron Arad for the exchange of Kuntar.
The Official Website of Samir Kuntar
Israel moots Kuntar prisoner swap
(AL-JAZEERA 9/17/2006)
Free the monster Samir Kuntar
(Haaretz article 09/04/2006)
Plot to free terrorist (Kuntar) may have led to fight
(Washington Times 8/8/2006)
Nasrallah says no deal without Samir
(9/12/2006 BBC article "Nasrallah Demands Militant Free")
"Hizballah Wants Israel to Free Child-Killer"
(Cybercast News Service, 7/18/2006)
More than 25 years later, militant still atop Hezbollah's list for swap
(Seattle Times 8/16/2006)
Why Hezbollah Attacked Israel
(Mens News Daily 8/09/2006)
Samir Kuntar to be released very soon
The Jerusalem Post 1/6/2007
Video of an interview with Smadar Haran on CBC
(RealPlayer required)