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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

News on two hostages held by Hezbullah?

There are two hints of news tonight on the two Israeli hostages being held by Hezbullah, IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Neither of them is particularly informative and their credibility may also be questionable.

A UN envoy told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today that according to a third-hand source in Lebanon – the kidnapped soldiers are receiving humane treatment. Nonetheless, the envoys were not able to determine the soldiers' condition from the report.

An Italian lawmaker, Sen. Sergio De Gregorio, said today that he has received two messages from Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, asking Italy to act as a mediator between Israel and Hezbullah and help initiate a prisoner swap:

The messages communicated that "Iran is ready to pressure Hezbollah to accept a prisoner exchange and that Iran wants to discuss this issue only with Italy," De Gregorio told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

The messages were delivered by a trusted intermediary, a representative in Tehran of an organization that De Gregorio heads that promotes cultural and commercial ties with Italy, De Gregorio said. The first was sent about four weeks ago, after the senator gave an interview to Iranian public TV appealing for the soldiers' release.

The second message, received last week, also claimed that "the two Israeli soldiers are alive but that their health condition requires medical attention," De Gregorio said.

While I have no doubt that De Gregorio got the messages, there are things that don't fit here. First, the Germans have always acted as intermediaries between us and Hezbullah. Second, it seems odd that Hezbullah - let alone the Iranians - would be speaking through an anonymous organization. Finally, the ominous hints of a 'health crisis' regarding the prisoners does not speak well. It's obviously a pressure tactic, and it may or may not be true, but it could also mean that the health condition is that the soldiers have been killed.


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