Israel's prisons authority said Wednesday it would free in the next few days 13 Lebanese held without trial following a supreme court ruling that they were being detained illegally.
"All 13 Lebanese held by the prisons authority will be released and returned to Lebanon as soon as the technical arrangements have been finalised" with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the authority's spokeswoman told AFP.
"We are implementing a decision by the court which ordered the release of eight prisoners who had submitted an appeal and five others whose case is the same," she added.
However, she said the two best known Lebanese detainees, Sheikh Abdel Karim Obeid and Shiite leader Mustafa Dirani, kidnapped by Israeli commandos in southern Lebanon in 1989 and 1994 respectively, were not covered.
Both are held by the army and do not come within the competence of the prisons authority.
The head of the Israeli armed forces, General Shaul Mofaz, earlier told state radio that the military would comply with the ruling.
"We will respect the decision of the court and implement it," he said.
Mofaz said the imprisonment of the Lebanese had been judged necessary in an attempt to secure the release of Israeli air force navigator Ron Arad, who was shot down over Lebanon in 1986 and who the Israelis believe is still alive.
Also missing are three soldiers thought to have been captured in 1982 during a tank battle between Israeli and Syrian forces -- OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )