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Israel/Lebanon: ICRC participates in transfer of released detainees and human remains

29-01-2004 News Release 04/05

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is participating in the transfer of released detainees and human remains arranged between Israel and Hezbollah through the mediation of the German authorities.

The ICRC is acting in its capacity as a neutral intermediary and with the full agreement of all concerned parties. It was not involved in the negotiations led by Germany that resulted in the releases, transfers and repatriations.

An ICRC team including a medical doctor is on board a flight carrying detainees from Israel to Germany where they will be handed over to the German authorities, which will subsequently arrange for transportation to Lebanon. On 27 January the ICRC interviewed 35 persons included in the agreement between Israel and Hezbollah to find out whether they agreed to be transferred as planned. Their answers were conveyed to the relevant authorities. This standard procedure aims to ensure that persons are not transferred to countries where they may be subject to persecution.

The same ICRC team is expected to fly back to Israel on a plane carrying an Israeli citizen released by Hezbollah as well as the human remains of three Israeli soldiers handed over by Hezbollah to German authorities.

The ICRC is also observing the release of some 400 Palestinians from Israeli detention to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On 28 January, ICRC delegates interviewed these detainees in private to ascertain that they agreed to their release in accordance with the agreement between Israel and Hezbollah.

The ICRC will also repatriate the human remains of up to 60 Lebanese citizens from Israel - another element of the agreement between Israel and Hezbollah. Israel is expected to transfer the human remains to the ICRC at the Rosh Ha Nikra/Ras Naqura border crossing shortly, from where the ICRC will take them across the border into Lebanon. The human remains should be received by their families on Friday.

The ICRC remains ready to offer its humanitarian services in order to help clarify the fate of other persons still missing in Israel or Lebanon. The resolution of these cases should be arranged as quickly as possible in the interest of the families concerned.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 2930  

 Uriel Masad, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel. ++972 64 681 455  

 Simon Schorno, ICRC Jerusalem, tel. ++972 52 956 371  

 Mohsen Jammal, ICRC Beirut, tel. ++9611 739 297/8/9