Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah called Saturday for Israel to release a sick prisoner if progress is to be made on a prisoner swap deal.
Nasrallah said in an interview with A-Safir daily that Hizbullah is withholding information on three Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah in October 2000. He conditioned any deal with Israel on releases of prisoners by Israel.
In the interview, Nasrallah said he had made the demand through German negotiators who have been trying to broker a prisoner exchange for some time. He said Hizbullah wants Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners to be part of the deal.
"We told the go-between he must present practical evidence of Israeli readiness to pursue this issue, and we consider this can be done through the release of one of the prisoners, who suffers from a serious health crisis," Nasrallah said.
The identity of the ill prisoner was not given. Two weeks ago, Israel freed Ali Barzawi, a Hizbullah prisoner who was ill. Barzawi had been held for 15 years. Nasrallah also raised the names of Sheikh Abdel Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, who were kidnapped by Israel. "It is necessary to deal differently with Sheikh Obeid and Haj Dirani," Nasrallah said.
"After the release of the liberated prisoner Barzawi, stipulations were made regarding the status of Sheikh Obeid and Haj Dirani, and we received messages from them." (Albawaba.com)