Lebanese POWs - Israel's dirty little secret
Samir al-Qintar is a PoW languishing in an Israeli prison for the last 28 years, and - brace yourself - he was 16 years old when he was captured (i.e., kidnapped).
The following excerpt is from a letter dated 11 February 1999 from the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations, addressed to the Secretary-General.
Trials [in Israel] are purely pro forma, and there is no difference between those tried, those who have served their sentences and those being held without trial. All of them are hostages.What are their crimes?
By its decision of 13 November 1997, the Supreme Court of Israel acknowledged that the Lebanese detainees are hostages and are a bargaining chip.
That Israel has enshrined hostage-taking and torture in its laws is a flagrant violation of international law and sets a precedent that is the first of its kind in the world. It has never before happened in all of history that a court of justice has sanctioned the taking of hostages. Some detainees were not tried following their abduction, and they are languishing in prisons that the International Committee of the Red Cross is forbidden to enter and are not allowed to exchange letters with their families.* * *[al-Qintar] is the longest serving Lebanese prisoner in the Israeli prison system, having been placed in detention for life on 22 April 1979. He is not allowed to meet with his family or his brothers despite the fact that it is 20 years since he was first arrested. Most of the detainees endure difficult physical and mental conditions since their families are prevented from visiting them and they live in complete isolation from the world.
The charges made against detainees can be summarized as follows:What say you, America? Guilty as charged?(a) Resistance to the Israeli occupation;
(b) Refusal to enlist in the militias collaborating with Israel;
(c) Refusal to pay duties and taxes;
(d) Dealing with the Lebanese Government and providing information to the Lebanese Army;
(e) Possession of cell phones;
(f) Refusing Israeli assistance and the organization of tourist visits to Israel.
Or, is it time to put Israel on trial?