Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Tammuz 5761 - July 11, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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UN Refuses to Hand Over Unedited Videotape
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The United Nations refused to hand over an unedited videotape that may shed light on the October 2000 kidnappings of three IDF soldiers by Hizbullah, but it said that it would hand over an edited tape, despite Hizbullah threats.

The UN earlier said it would hand over video to Israel with the faces of non-UN personnel obscured. Those "non-UN personnel" are shown brandishing guns and arguing with UN personnel and they are believed to be Hizbullah gunmen. Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer insisted that the original unedited tape be turned over in a letter sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Rumors of the existence of a tape surfaced only a few weeks after the kidnappings, but they were confirmed only recently after months of denials. Although the commander of the UNIFIL forces did know of tape, senior UN officials included emissary Terje Larsen and Secretary Annan apparently did not know of the tape.

In a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York, a spokesman for the Secretary-General, Fred Eckhard, said that UN officials were studying Ben-Eliezer's letter as well as the reactions of Lebanese authorities and Hizbullah, who have demanded that the UN not release the tape to Israel.

"Look, we're caught in the middle here, with the Israeli Defense Ministry saying they want something we are not willing to provide," said Eckhard at the briefing. "It looks like there will be no turnover of the tape," he said.

The videotape in question was filmed by an Indian UNIFIL officer 18 hours after St.-Sgts. Binyamin Avraham and Omar Suwayed and Sgt. Adi Avitan were abducted by Hizbullah last October 7. UNIFIL spokesman Timur Goksel said last week that the videotape shows cars apparently used by Hizbullah to lure the soldiers to the Lebanese border.

After denying the existence of the video for months, UN officials now say that the tape provides no new information on the kidnapping.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guzenno, said that the UN decided to obscure certain faces on the video due to "security considerations."

"Israel would request that an inquiry be conducted in order to determine once and for all the facts known to the UN pertaining to the abduction of the Israeli soldiers and the delay in the UN secretariat of advising Israel of these facts," said an Israeli official in reaction to Eckhard's comments.

Eckhard said at the briefing that the UN is not planning to conduct an internal inquiry as to why evidence of the videotape was withheld from Israeli authorities as well as UN officials, including Annan.

A spokesman for Israel's ambassador to the UN, Yehuda Lancry, said that Israel had not yet received a response to Ben-Eliezer's letter.

In Congress, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) expressed his outrage over the UN's refusal to release the videotape. In a letter to his colleagues circulating in the House of Representatives, Weiner wrote that if the unedited tape is not turned over to Israel, action may be taken against the UN in the upcoming State Department Authorization bill, which provides millions of dollars in UN dues.

"I am outraged that the United Nations would withhold evidence of a criminal act," said Weiner in a press release. "Until the UN hands over this criminal evidence, I will fight to ensure that US dollars do not support any efforts to protect Hizbullah kidnappers," he said.

Since Israel and its soldiers were acting according to UN instructions and guidelines, the Hizbullah abduction is recognized as a criminal act and nothing more.


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