PARIS (Feb. 19)
A fourth Lebanese Jewish hostage was reportedly murdered in Beirut this week. An extremist Shiite Lebanese group, “The Organization of the Oppressed in the World,” announced the “execution” of Dr. Elie Hallak, 60, a physician and the vice president of the Lebanese Jewish community. Last Sunday, the body of another hostage, Ibrahim Benisti (also spelled Benesti), 50, was found in west Beirut. He had been badly beaten and shot in the back of the head.
Hallak, a popular general practitioner and lecturer at Beirut Medical School, was kidnapped outside his home in west Beirut March 30, 1985. Three other Jews were kidnapped at the same time.
Lebanese police say his body has not yet been found but a Beirut daily, An-Nahar, published Wednesday a Polaroid photograph of Hallak’s body. The photo was of the same type as the one showing the body of Benisti and two members of his family who had also been kidnapped.
CLAIMS BY THE KILLERS
The killers also published a communique saying that Hallak’s killing was in retaliation for “Israeli terrorist activities in villages of oppressed people in south Lebanon.” The Shiite organization, believed to be close to the pro-Iranian Hezbullah movement, also accused Hallak of having been “a prominent member of the Israeli Mossad (secret service).”
In similar fashion, a statement found pinned to Benisti’s body said he had been killed “for having been an Israeli spy” and as an example “to all other Israeli agents.” It called the victim “a pillar of Israeli espionage in Lebanon.”
Two months ago The Organization of the Oppressed murdered two other Jewish hostages, Prof. Isaac Tarrab and Haim Cohen Halalah. Three more Jewish hostages are believed to be in the hands of the gang, which has murdered four of its Jewish captives since December.
The Organization of the Oppressed is a relative newcomer to the terrorist scene which first became known last June when it hijacked a TWA airliner to Beirut demanding the release of 300 Shiite prisoners believed to be held by Israel.
Jewish organizations in France contacted throughout the day Lebanese officials in Beirut to try and obtain the release of the four Jewish hostages still held by the gang.