TEL AVIV (Jul. 21)
Israel’s defense establishment is highly skeptical of a reported offer by the Islamic Jihad to allow representatives of the International Red Cross to visit Israelis it claims to be holding captive in Lebanon.
According to reports in the Lebanese press, the offer is contingent on the release of four Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, plus a guarantee to release all Palestinians and other Arabs incarcerated in Israel.
Although seven Israeli soldiers have been held prisoner in Lebanon, for years, a senior defense official observed that the extremist Islamic Jihad offered no proof that it-was their captor.
‘This is an attempt to try to extract some questionable benefit by taking advantage of this painful, humanitarian problem,” he said.
The official observed that “sometimes, to our great sorrow,” the Lebanese media publishes proposals to Israel by groups which have no connection with Israeli prisoners.
“The announcement does not clarify the identity of the Israeli captives in question, and we have no proof that lends truth to the claim of the organization that it holds, or that an clement called the Islamic Opposition holds, Israelis captive.”
The official said Israel stands “ready to consider any proposal or demand for the release of prisoners on condition that it receives proof that its captives or missing persons arc in the hands of those elements making the proposals.”