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
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
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
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.