Hezbollah 'Kidnapping'

Re: Congress and the Israeli Attack on Lebanon

To the Editor:

Although much of the world now assumes the truth of the Israeli claim that Hezbollah crossed into Israel and "kidnaped" two Israeli soldiers, giving Israel its casus belli, the claim is suspect. Joseph Panossian of the Associated Press filed a report at 5:41 AM on 12 July asserting that the Israeli soldiers were captured in Lebanon. The report may be found on Forbes.com. The Hindustan Times carried a similar report, the relevant text of which is as follows:

"The Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement announced on Wednesday that its guerrillas have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon.

"Implementing our promise to free Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, our strugglers have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon," a statement by Hezbollah said.

"The two soldiers have already been moved to a safe place," it added.

"The Lebanese police said that the two soldiers were captured as they "infiltrated" into the town of Aitaa al-Chaab inside the Lebanese border.

"Israeli aircraft were active in the air over southern Lebanon, the police said, with jets bombing roads leading to the market town of Nabatiyeh, 60 kms south of Beirut.

"Lebanese security sources said the planes were bombarding roads, which might be used by Hezbollah guerrillas.

"There was no immediate confirmation of the Hezbollah claims from any official Israeli source. An Israeli army spokeswoman, however, said there was "concern" over the fate of the two soldiers."

Similar reports were carried by Agence France Press and Voltairenet.

It may be argued that subsequent reports that Hezbollah captured the soldiers on Israeli soil, thus setting in motion the events of the last 17 days, constitute the truth of the matter. But that does not explain why an earlier contradictory report was not acknowledged with reasons given for the change in this extremely important detail. Experienced investigators know that interested parties re-shape stories into salable, useful form. Until it can be shown that this did not happen in the present case, the AP, AFP, and Hindustan Times reports are more credible than the "kidnaping" yarn that has been used as a pretext for the Israeli assault.

Alan Bickley
Madison, Wis.