The Lebanese Hizbollah movement’s deputy secretary-general said Monday that the party had rejected the latest request by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit four Israeli soldiers captured late October, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
Sheikh Naim Qassem made the announcement after receiving the ICRC’s Middle East and North Africa operations head, Werner Kaspar.
“We have reiterated our request to visit the (Israeli) prisoners, but the position of Hizbollah has not changed,” Kaspar said after meeting Qassem, adding that the “discussions were very constructive and it is necessary to have these discussions from time to time.”
Hizbollah is refusing access to four Israeli prisoners captured in October.
Hizbollah has demanded that, in exchange for information on the Israeli prisoners’ well-being, the ICRC be allowed to visit Sheikh Abdel-Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, who are being held in Israeli jails.
Obeid was kidnapped by Israeli commandos in 1989, while Dirani was captured in the same manner in 1994.
Asked whether there was any coordination with German mediators, Kaspar said that he “did not want to intervene or coordinate with other mediators,” the paper quoted him as saying.
“We, as a humanitarian organization, have requests based on international law,” he asserted. “We take our own initiatives and offer our services. It’s up to decision-makers to accept our calls or not.”
Hizbollah has said on several occasions that the German government is also engaged in mediation efforts between the group and Israel to secure a prisoner swap deal.
The group has demanded the release of all 19 Lebanese prisoners still held in Israeli jails and all other Arab detainees in exchange for the release of the four Israelis.
It has also called on Israel to provide Beirut with maps of mines it planted in the south – Albawaba.com