Israel claims its war on Lebanon was triggered by Hizbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers, and says it holds only two Lebanese prisoners.
Yet a secret list compiled by the Lebanese authorities, and leaked to the Lebanese newspaper al-Safir, has revealed the names of 67 men known to have been kidnapped by Israel and its allies during 18 years of occupation. Thousands of others are missing.
The most high profile prisoner in Israel is Samir Kuntar, who is serving a life sentence. Kuntar was captured by Israel in 1979 during an operation by a left wing Palestinian group. He was 16 at the time.
Kuntar has been kept out of prisoner exchanges until the Lebanese find the remains of an Israeli air force pilot downed in 1986. The Lebanese have repeatedly stated that the pilot is just one of 17,000 people who went missing over decades of war.
Hizbollah has demanded Kuntar be released in exchange for Israeli soldiers. The resistance is also demanding the return of hundreds of others held secretly by Israel.
The leaked list names those who were witnessed being seized and then identified as having been transferred to Israeli prisons. The majority were seized by Israeli troops or their allies, the right wing Lebanese Forces and Israel’s proxy South Lebanese Army (SLA).
The list gives the dates and locations where the men were seized, followed by verification either by witnesses or newspaper photographs of prisoners.
There is no reason given as to why the men were seized, or whether they are alive or dead. The Israelis have refused to discuss the list, and have given no details on the missing people’s whereabouts, or the locations of their graves.
Those campaigning for the families of the missing fear they were tortured, then killed inside Israel.
There are hopes that some of them might still be alive. Many would now be in their 40s. Of the 67 who have been verified as having been transferred to Israel, 43 were in their early 20s or younger.