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Copyright 2001 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post

July 8, 2001

HEADLINE: Security officials doubt authenticity of kidnapping photos

BYLINE: Arieh O'Sullivan and David Rudge

TEL AVIV (July 8) - Senior security officials have cast doubt over the authenticity of photographs purporting to show scenes from the October 7 Mount Dov kidnappings and two of the hostages in hospital beds.

The pictures from the hospital were screened on Channel 2 on Friday and last night, but the security officials and the hostages' families said they were too unclear to see faces.

The photos, showing two men in a hospital bed, had already been obtained by the defense establishment and had been relayed to the soldiers' families. According to defense officials, the photos did not provide an equivocal answer or any new information.

"It was impossible to determine the authenticity of the photograph and whether those in it were the kidnapped soldiers or not," said the defense official. "But we will continue to try to get hold of every piece of information."

Senior defense officials, however, could not rule out that this was an attempt by Hizbullah to wage psychological warfare.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer pressed his demand that the UN hand over the videotape intact since the defense establishment believes information may be gleaned from it.

"The Defense Minister demands all of the information and the full and uncensored or edited videotape," said his spokesman, Yarden Vatikay.

The weekend saw a flurry of reports from Lebanon and in Israel showing photos allegedly taken from the video taped by an Indian officer in UNIFIL, as well as still photographs from Lebanon of possible Hizbullah guerrillas involved in the kidnappings.

But defense officials said that most of these had already been seen shortly after the October 7 kidnapping, some of which were broadcast on Al-Jazeera TV.

The defense establishment last night continued to voice contempt for the way the United Nations was handling the matter of the videotape.

The statements by the UN placing conditions on the transferral of the videotape angered many in the Defense Ministry.

"We have many doubts about the behavior of the United Nations in this whole affair," said one defense official. "We are not sure of their integrity in this matter."

The official dismissed criticism by UN officials that the aggressive and public Israeli demand had backfired by limiting UN flexibility and forcing it to be intransigent.

"It had been dealt with quietly until now. They had always denied they had the tape. They lied to us. It was only after we presented them with evidence of the proof that they suddenly admitted they had it. So all this talk about getting quietly is irrelevant," the defense official said.

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