Washington, D.C.- The House of Representatives passed H.Res. 191, a resolution authored by Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL), calling on the United Nations to immediately release a videotape of evidence surrounding the October kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah terrorists. The resolution was passed 411-4 late Monday.
U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon recorded images of vehicles and personnel linked to the October 7, 2000 kidnapping of three Israeli Defense Force soldiers: Adi Avitan, Binyamin Avraham, and Omar Souad. The United Nations has thus far refused to release the tape, citing its need to remain neutral between Hezbollah and Israel.
"I am proud that the house sent a clear message with this resolution. In violation of international law, Hezbollah fighters, disguised as UN peacekeepers, crossed into Israel and kidnapped the Israeli soldiers. After nearly ten months, very little is known about the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping or the present conditions of the soldiers. Hezbollah continues to deny third party negotiators and the International Committee of the Red Cross access to their captives," said Congressman Kirk.
Recently, the Undersecretary General to the UN confirmed after nine months of denial that soldiers from the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon crossed into Lebanon the day after the kidnapping, found the assailants' abandoned vehicles and filmed the entire scene. This videotape may provide the Israeli government and families of the kidnapped soldiers with material evidence for the investigation of the abduction.
"The United Nations was founded to advance international peace, the rule of law and human rights. It is on this basis that we call on the U.N. to release this critical evidence on the kidnapping. The families of these young men have not heard from their loved ones for 295 days and 295 days is too long," concluded Rep. Kirk.
Thirty-five bipartisan members of the House have co-sponsored the Kirk resolution, including Chairman Ben Gilman (R-NY) of the International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia and the ranking member of the committee, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA).