Hizbollah's military official for south Lebanon, Nabil Qauq, said Wednesday that the group is prepared to use force to free Lebanese prisoners held in Israel.
"Hizbollah is determined to obtain, even by force, the freedom of all Lebanese detained in Israel and especially two holy warriors, Sheikh Abdel Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani," Qauq told AFP in a statement.
"It is out of the question for Hizbollah to accept making compromises or bending its position on the question of prisoners," he said.
Twenty Lebanese are still held in Israeli prisons despite Israel's retreat from south Lebanon, including some who have already served their prison sentences.
Obeid and Dirani were arrested in 1986 and 1994 respectively by Israeli commandos, although neither has been tried. They are kept as bargaining chips to be exchanged for four members of the Israeli armed forces who disappeared over Lebanon.
Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that such detentions are illegal but a bill that has received preliminary approval in parliament would legalize the detention by invoking security concerns.
The US-based group Human Rights Watch has strongly criticized the bill, calling the keeping of hostages a war crime -- TYRE, Lebanon (AFP)
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