Israel to Free 22 Lebanese Prisoners
Story Filed: Tuesday, January 04, 2000 8:12 AM EST
Jan 4 1999
BEIRUT (Jan. 4) XINHUA - Israel will release 22 Lebanese inmates in the next
48 hours from the Khiam Prison inside the Israeli occupation zone in south
Lebanon, the People's Voice radio reported Tuesday.
The deal is brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),
the radio added.
Maher Tufiaili, Lebanon's representative to the five-nation Monitoring Group
which oversees the cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon, had informed
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Salim Hoss of the
The prisoners to be released would be brought to Beirut in an ICRC bus from
Khiam prison, which is reportedly still holding over 100 Lebanese prisoners
for collaborating with Lebanese guerrillas.
Israel established a self-styled security zone in south Lebanon in 1985 with
the claimed aim of protecting its north from Lebanese guerrillas'
Hezbollah, or Party of God, backed by Syria and Iran, is leading a guerrilla
war trying to oust Israeli occupation troops out of the country.
The release is the second in less than one month, with the first batch of
five freed in December.
The Israeli move is widely seen as a goodwill gesture as its Prime Minister
Ehud Barak is in the U.S. for the second round of peace talks with Syrian
Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sharaa, which began on January 3.
The peace talks resumed in Washington on December 15 after a break of almost
Syria, with 35,000 troops stationed in Lebanon, is an undisputed power
broker in the country and Lebanon is closely following Syria's foreign
policy, especially in the Mideast peace process.
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