Abducted Lebanese shepherd released by Israel
Published Saturday, June 30, 2012
A Lebanese shepherd has been released a day after being abducted by the Israeli army, the United Nations confirmed on Saturday.
Andrea Tenenti, spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), said Youssef Mohammad Zahra was returned to Lebanon after being captured by Israeli soldiers in the Shebaa Farms area on Friday.
“He was released this morning at the crossing point next to our base. He was released to UNIFIL and UNIFIL released him to the Lebanese army,” Tenenti told Al-Akhbar.
“The UNIFIL force commander, through his contacts with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), was able to secure his early release."
Tenenti said he could not speculate further on the circumstances of Friday's abduction, specifically whether the farmer had crossed the so-called blue line that demarcates the two warring countries.
Lebanon's state-run media had earlier reported that Zahra was within Lebanese territory when he was abducted.
The National News Agency said the farmer was 20 meters from the border when he was ambushed by an Israeli foot patrol, who dragged him blindfolded into the Occupied Territories.
Tenenti said UNIFIL was opening an immediate investigation into the situation, adding he was hoping to have the full cooperation of both Israel and Lebanon.
“In relation to the facts we have opened an investigation as we were not present at the time (of the abduction)," he said. "We will get information and details from all the parties involved."
Lebanon claims the Shebaa Farms as its territory currently under occupation by Israel. The Jewish state says the area is Syrian territory, captured by Israel during the 1967 war.