Israel frees jailed Hizbullah member after 15 years in prison
Israel released Hizbullah member, Mohamad al-Barzawi at the Lebanon border on Monday, Israel Radio reported. According the report, al Barzawi was taken to the border crossing, and after undergoing a series of checks was picked up by Red Cross officials.
Earlier, a Lebanes daily reported that Israel was about to free him after 15 years in jail, in what Israeli officials termed a confidence-building measure to aid in a possible future release of Israeli captives and MIAs currently held by the Hizbullah.
Mohamad al-Barzawi was captured during a Hizbullah attack on an Israeli position in the Chouf mountains in 1987. During the attack two Hizbullah guerrillas were killed.
"Freeing the prisoner al-Barzawi is considered the first actual signal toward renewal of negotiations between Hizbullah and the Israelis surrounding the exchange of prisoners between the two sides, " a Safir said.
The paper added the reported release was brokered by a German mediator who had held talks in Israel and Lebanon.
Al-Barzawi was said to be suffering from serious health problems. The Lebanese newspaper wrote that a Hizbullah representative had told his family of the imminent release on Saturday, and that welcoming celebrations were planned in the family town of Baalbek.
Asked about the reported deal, the Israeli Army’s Chief Spokesman, Ron Kitrey said he had no knowledge of it, but added that he "wanted to hope, for the sake of the members of the families of the missing and captured, that this is ... perhaps a positive sign."
Family members of missing and captured Israeli servicemen were told of the reported deal Monday morning, Army Radio reported. (Albawaba.com)