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Israel / Lebanon: Repatriation of human remains completed

30-01-2004 News Release 04/06

Geneva, 30 January – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has repatriated the remains of 60 persons to Lebanon from Israel.

Today at 10am local time, the human remains were formally handed over to Hezbollah representatives in the village of Ras Naqura, in the presence of many of the families of the deceased. Returning the remains was a key element of a German-brokered agreement between Israel and Hezbollah. 

Acting in its capacity as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC received the coffins containing the remains of the 60 persons, as well as some personal belongings, from Israeli authorities on 29 January at the Rosh Ha Nikra / Ras Naqura border crossing. The ICRC then transported the coffins across the border onto Lebanese territory. 

Over the past 48 hours, the ICRC has taken part, in a purely humanitarian capacity, in the release and repatriation of detainees and human remains via Germany. This included repatriating one Israeli citizen and the human remains of three Israeli soldiers from Lebanon, as well as transporting 22 Lebanese citizens and seven persons of other nationalities released from Israeli detention. The ICRC also monitored the release from Israeli detention of some 400 Palestinians to their homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Prior to the operation, ICRC delegates had interviewed in private the concerned detainees in Israel to ascertain that they agreed to be repatriated or released in accordance with the agreement.

The ICRC will persist in its humanitarian efforts to help clarify what has happened to other persons still missing in Israel and Lebanon. These cases ought to be resolved as quickly as possible in order to reduce suffering and bring solace to the families of the missing persons. 

 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