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Copyright 2003 Jerusalem Post
January 7, 2003

HEADLINE: Family of Israeli captive welcomes news he is alive

BYLINE: David Rudge

The family of Israeli businessman and reserve colonel Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was kidnapped by Hizbullah in October 2000, has welcomed the announcement by the organization's leader that he is alive.

Nevertheless, Tannenbaum's son, Ori, said Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's comments regarding the deadlock in negotiations over a prisoner exchange appeared to be designed to mute criticism in Lebanon for his inaction on the issue.

Nasrallah's statement in an interview on Lebanon's NBN television channel was the first time the Hizbullah leader has publicly acknowledged that Tannenbaum is alive since he was abducted over two years ago.

The original announcement was made shortly after the kidnapping of three IDF soldiers, St.-Sgt.s Benny Avraham, Omar Suwayeed, and Adi Avitan in a carefully-planned ambush on the Israeli side of the border in the Mount Dov region.

The IDF has since declared the three soldiers dead and their place of burial unknown, although it had been presumed by the authorities that Tannenbaum was still alive.

Nasrallah said in the interview that Hizbullah is holding "four captives, one of whom is known to be alive Col. Tannenbaum and three whose fate is unknown."

Ori Tannenbaum said Nasrallah's comments about his father were "very encouraging and emotional news that gives us a source of hope. We know that our father is alive, but we also know that every day that passes in captivity endangers his life," he said.

"He is very ill and if he doesn't receive appropriate medical care, which he needs desperately, it is doubtful if he will be able to survive for a long time.

"Now that Nasrallah has publicly stated that our father is alive, we demand that he allow us personal contact. We also demand that he allow an independent doctor to examine our father, as well as Red Cross visits." Tannenbaum said.

That Nasrallah's allegations that the government was dragging its feet over a prisoners exchange deal was part of Hizbullah's psychological warfare.

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