Washington, DC-- Today, the House Committee on International Relations passed H.Res. 99, a resolution sponsored by Congressman Joseph Crowley (NY-07), which calls upon Lebanon, Syria and Iran, the patron states of Hezbollah, to allow representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit four abducted Israelis who are being held by Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.
"I am pleased that the House International Relations Committee is moving so quickly on this important resolution. The continued detention of these men by Hezbollah troops is unacceptable and must be addressed today. The conditions of their capture and subsequent detention run completely counter to International standards and law. Given that the U.S. State Department report on terrorism named Iran and Syria as the patron states of Hezbollah, we must hold the governments in Tehran and Damascus responsible for the well being of these men," said Congressman Crowley.
In violation of international law, Hezbollah units crossed into Israel and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers, Adi Avitan, Binyamin Avraham and Omar Souad during October of last year, then kidnapped a fourth captive, Elchanan Tannenbaum, while he was on business in Europe. Since then, the ICRC has been denied access to the men, despite numerous attempts to gain admittance to assess their health and wellbeing.
Last year, the U.S. Department of State report on foreign terrorist organizations stated that Hezbollah receives substantial amounts of financial assistance, training, weapons, explosives, and political, diplomatic, and organizational assistance from the governments of Iran and Syria.
"As signatories to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Iran and Syria have a responsibility to the international community to take concrete steps to encourage Hezbollah to permit the International Committee of the Red Cross access to these men," said Congressman Crowley.
In May, Congressman Crowley and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) were joined by family members of the four Israeli men. The ICRC has in the past been the main intermediary in negotiations that led to several exchanges between Israel and Lebanon.
More than seventy members of the House have cosponsored the Crowley Hezbollah resolution. Senator Schumer and Senator Brownback (R-KS) introduced the resolution in the Senate, which passed the legislation yesterday.