< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://bokertov.typepad.com/ btb/" >

Friday, August 08, 2003

Hizballah's Kidnapping Rampage Goes Unopposed

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
The Lebanese Shiite terror group has launched an extensive, particularly vicious, terror campaign against Israel in collusion with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. At present, an Israeli Arab terror gang in Galilee, controlled and funded by Hizballah, is believed by Israeli security officials talking to DEBKAfile to be responsible for the kidnap-murder of Israeli soldier Oleg Shaichat, whose body was found last week in northern Israel. The same squad also apparently abducted Tiberias teenager Dana Bennet six days ago and possibly also New York yeshiva student Eliezer Zussiya Klughoft, who was last seen on Mt. Meron on Saturday, August 2.

Three kidnappers from the same gang tried at gunpoint to force an Israeli Druze soldier into a car at the Yokneam junction on August 7. They fled when he cocked his rifle. Military and police investigators regret the soldier’s failure to open fire on his assailants and interrupt their depredations. But the Druze soldier was constricted from opening fire by the new rules of engagement quietly put in place since a truce was declared on June 29.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report Israeli authorities are convinced that these terrorists are not snatching hostages as bargaining chips but are out to kill. This they do shortly after grabbing a victim and bundling him or her into their vehicle. Several days before Shaichat was abducted, a frightened Bedouin soldier showed up late at his unit and reported he had escaped kidnappers at the Golani junction in northern Israel. His superiors who did not believe him at the time now see he was telling the truth.

Israeli security officials have realized retrospectively that the particularly virulent and violent speech Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Sunday, July 27, several hours after Shaichat’s body was found, was a signal to go ahead with these abductions. In the address, he referred to Elhanan Tannenbaum, the retired Israeli army colonel kidnapped by his organization three years ago. “Who says he’s alive?” Nasrallah asked and went on to declare with brandished fist: “I will work day and night to capture more Israeli prisoners".

That broadcast address is now seen as an implicit order to terrorist gangs to press ahead with the campaign of abduction and murder. Nasrallah actually spoke in the Palestinian vernacular of Arabic, specifically addressing Israeli Arabs in the Galilee so as to reach the ears of the terrorist squad which has since been preying on Israeli teenagers in the north. Word slipped out to listeners in Galilee that they could pick up the broadcast and results were soon to follow.

Continued at Debka.