The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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January 21, 2008

Daily Star - Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah - January 21, 2008

Nasrallah's taunt gets under Israel's skin

Compiled by Daily Star staff

Hizbullah's leader said on Saturday his party had the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon during the 2006 war, saying the dead were left behind "in our villages and fields."

"Your army left behind the remains of soldiers in our villages and fields," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, addressing the Israeli people during a speech to tens of thousands of Shiites taking part in commemorations marking Ashura.

"They [Israeli army] were so weak on the field that they left behind remains not of one, two or three but a large number of your soldiers," Nasrallah added.

"One body is almost complete," Nasrallah said. "What did the [Israeli] army say to the family of these soldiers and what remains did they give them?"

The Hizbullah leader's comments sparked outrage in Israel, which prides itself on doing everything to recover the remains of its soldiers from fields of battle and has in the past freed prisoners in exchange for remains of soldiers and civilians.

Israeli ministers on Sunday cursed Nasrallah as a "sewer rat" for boasting that his group had Israeli body parts.

"Nasrallah has crossed all possible boundaries of inhumanity," Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's centrist Kadima party said ahead of a weekly Cabinet meeting.

"We should not panic from his words and we should not negotiate with him. We should take him out," he told AFP.

Housing Minister Zeev Boim echoed the sentiment and also called for the assassination of the leader of Hizbullah.

"Nasrallah is a sewer rat who will continue digging his holes," he said. "Israel should make sure that he doesn't see the light of day."

Yitzhak Cohen, a minister from Israel's ultra-Orthodox Shas party, said that "Nasrallah is a madman and I don't understand why he's still breathing."

"We should have taken him out a long, long time ago and it's never too late to do so," he told AFP. "I will advise the Security Cabinet to assassinate the man."

The army slammed the comments as "a cruel and cynical move by an organization that fragrantly tramples the most fundamental, ethical codes, shows no respect for human rights or the international conventions that govern these matters.

"Even more so, his speech demonstrates that the Hizbullah terrorist organization violates the values that are sacred to all religions, including Islam."

Israel responded to Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers in July 2006 by launching a 34-day war that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. The two servicemen remain missing. Israel is thought to be holding at least seven Lebanese prisoners of war.

Nasrallah's comments appeared aimed at increasing pressure on the Israeli government to speed up UN-mediated negotiations for a prisoner swap deal.

Nasrallah also said he doubted Israel had the political and military leadership and qualified army to launch another war on Lebanon. But he warned that should the Jewish state do so, "we promise them a war that will change the path of the battle and the fate of the whole region."

Commenting on the political impasse in Lebanon, Nasrallah said Hizbullah supported the Arab plan to end the crisis in Lebanon. He called on the Arab League to seek the achievement of a true partnership between the Lebanese and not the domination of a faction over another.

The Sayyed added that the Lebanese opposition "will not relinquish the demands we have voiced since the beginning of the deadlock." Among other things, the opposition's main demand is to acquire veto power in the next government.

Nasrallah said the opposition will not "hide behind everyday demands such as the prices of bread or electricity to launch steps against the government."

In his latest interview Nasrallah said the opposition had "reserved plans" if mediation efforts to solve the crisis fail.

"Our plans touch on the political solely," he added.

Nasrallah also accused US President George W. Bush of using a recent Middle East tour to incite Arabs against Iran. Nasrallah called on Arab governments to confront Bush's "satanic visions" for the Middle East, which he said serve only the interests of the US and Israel.

"Bush wants to convince our rulers and people that Iran is the enemy, that Iran poses a danger and a threat, and that Israel is a brother, a beloved friend and neighbor for whom we must extend our hand in peace," he said. - The Daily Star, with agencies

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