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Over the last three decades Israel has systematically kidnapped thousands of Lebanese, Palestinians and others from Lebanon. Many of them were literally kidnapped from their houses or workplaces like criminals do in films and real life. They were taken secretly to Israeli jails or kept under subhuman conditions in concentration camps like Ansar and Khiam which are not different from the Nazi camps Jews never tire to remind us about...Yesterday’s victims are today’s tormentors... With the downfall of the Israeli might in south Lebanon Khiam hostages were freed last month but hundreds still remain in Israeli jails and concentration camps. The Hizbullah head, Shaikh Hasan Nasrallah, has reiterated that the question of the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon will not be considered closed without the release of the hostages and evacuation from Sheb’a’ farms which are still held by Israel.

Many of the prisoners were simply kidnapped and no news was ever given to their relatives in Lebanon. They are kept in Israel under the Emergency laws of 1979 which allow indefinite detention without trial. The Amnesty International (AI) has described them not as prisoners but ‘hostages.’

Two of the most famous hostages are Shaikh Abdul Karim Obaid and Mustafa Deerani, both Lebanese and Hizbullah leaders (left). Deerani was kidnapped on 21 May 1994.

Shaikh Obaid was kidnapped from his home in Jibsheet, south Lebanon, in the early hours of 28 July 1989 when about 80 Israeli commandos encircled his house and whisked him away in a helicopter to Israel. Shaikh Obaid is lodged in Sarfand prison in occupied Palestine where he teaches other prisoners and leads them in prayers. AI and the International Red Cross (IRC) have not been allowed to see him. Israel wants to barter him with the Israeli pilot Ron Arad believed to be in Hizbullah custody since 1986. 

The hostages include four Iranian diplomats in Lebanon who were kidnapped in Beirut by the pro-Israeli Phalangist militias, ‘Lebanese Forces,’ which are known to have passed on many of their hostages to Israel. The four Iranians are Ahmad Motawasselian, Muhammad Taqi Rastivarmogadam, Muhsin Moosawi (incharge of foreign relations in the Iranian embassy in Beirut) and Kazim Akhaqan, a photographer. They were reportedly seen in Atleet prison in Israel in 1997 but Israel has refused to reply to AI queries about these hostages.

AI has compiled a list of 21 Lebanese nationals who were kidnapped and taken to Israel. There they were tried for crimes against the Jewish state whose laws permit it to try other nationals for ‘crimes’ against Israel in foreign lands!

There were 130 Lebanese hostages in the Khiam concentration camp which was manned by the quisling militia, SLA, since its inception in 1985. It replaced the notorious Ansar concentration camp which housed thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians arrested by Israel after its grand invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. Ansar was the biggest such camp in recent times. After it attracted a lot of international attention and condemnation, many were sent to Israeli jails or freed. Others were sent to Khiam which Israel claimed did not fall under its jurisdiction! Both Ansar and Khiam were equipped with the latest torture gadgets which were not available even to Hitler. Just like Sabra and Shatila, Israel claims it is not responsible for Khiam although it is situated within its occupation zone and Israeli interrogators worked there routinely. Khiam is the worst of these concentration camps because there is no legal procedure and prisoners are kept under indefinite detention. Prisoners were beaten up even during prayers here until they rioted in 1989. There were no medical or legal facilities and the IRC was not allowed access until 1995. Many prisoners simply died under torture and denial of medical attention. 

One of the famous prisoners in Khiam was Suha Bishara, a Christian girl belonging to the Lebanese Communist Party. Born in 1967 in the same village as General Lahad of the SLA, she tried to kill the traitor on 7 November 1988. The quisling general escaped with injuries. She was kept in Khiam ever since without trial. Her family was allowed to see her for the first time in 1995. Later her mother was allowed to see her once every month.

The horrible torture chambers at Khiam were captured intact when it fell in the hands of the Resistance because the torturers had no time to dismantle their chambers of shame.These will be kept as a museum for eternity to show Israel’s true, ugly face.

- Zafarul-Islam Khan

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