Hizbullah: Captured Israeli officer in exchange for lives of Palestinian fighters in Jenin

Published April 11th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

The leader of Hizbullah offered to free a captured Israeli officer in exchange for the lives of alleged Palestinian fighters trapped in the West Bank city of Jenin. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah proposed the swap in a statement late Wednesday read on Hizbullah's Al-Manar television channel.  


Hizbullah "proposes to free (Israeli) Colonel El-Khanan Tennenbaum whom Hizbullah has detained in exchange for and end to the attack on Jenin's refugee camp and an agreement... to guarantee the safety of the lives of those (Palestinian) combatants," the statement read.  


Tennenbaum, a reservist colonel, was kidnapped under mysterious circumstances by Hizbullah in October 2000, shortly after the start of the ongoing Palestinian uprising, reported AFP


His kidnap was announced after three Israeli soldiers were nabbed in the disputed Shebaa Farms border territory on October 7, 2000. Israel believes those three soldiers have since been killed.  


Hizbullah put the number of trapped Palestinians in Jenin at 100. But an official from Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement said earlier that a group of 50 Palestinians was trapped in a building in Jenin and were negotiating their surrender.  


The Israeli army has refused to let the men leave the building where they were caught, fearing it was a trick, the official said.  


The alleged Palestinian fighters were seeking the intervention of a third party to guarantee their safety. One of those being held issued an appeal for help on Qatar-based Aljazeera television, saying that the group were unarmed and that Israeli troops had threatened to "bury us alive" by destroying the building where they were holed out.  


Israel captured Jenin on Wednesday after a week of fierce fighting. The battle for the camp cost the lives of 23 Israeli soldiers and at least 100 Palestinians.  


Since the start of the Israeli offensive in the West Bank, Israel and Hizbullah have clashed almost daily on Israel's northern border, raising fears of a regional war.  


Hizbullah fighters planted their flag on the ramparts of an Israeli outpost in the Shebaa Farms Wednesday during the heaviest bombardment conducted by the resistance in a decade. 


Under the cover of the bombardment, a squad of fighters reached the ramparts of the Rowsat Allam outpost on the heights above Kfar Shuba. Hizbullah said the squad attacked Israeli troops manning the post’s frontal defenses, “causing certain casualties.” 


Hizbullah listed damage as including: a Merkava tank, radars, antennae, surveillance cameras and fortifications. 


The assault, in which an Israeli soldier was wounded, came hours after four Katyusha rockets were fired toward Kiryat Shemona. 


The latest bout of fighting led to increased diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border. Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s top official in Lebanon, described the continued cross-border attacks into Israel as “extremely dangerous intimidations.” 


And, in the first written statement ever issued by a UNIFIL commander, Major General Lalit Mohan Tewari said that he was “deeply disturbed” by the violence. (Albawaba.com) 

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