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Hezbollah claims Israeli hostage was taken in Lebanon, not Switzerland

Hezbollah chief, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, said an Israeli colonel had been seized.

(Keystone / AP Photo / Str)

The radical Islamic group, Hezbollah, says an Israeli citizen whom it kidnapped was seized in Lebanon. Hezbollah had said the hostage was taken in Switzerland or Germany.

Speaking at a press conference in Beirut on Monday, Hezbollah chief, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, repeated claims that the group had captured an Israeli army colonel working for the intelligence service, Mossad.

Nasrallah said the man, who has been identified as 54-year-old Elhanan Tenenbaum, was seized while trying to recruit a Hezbollah member in Lebanon.

"This issue is not kidnapping from a European country or from anywhere else in the world," said Nasrallah. "There is a colonel in the Israeli army, who has been in Mossad for a long time, working on penetrating Hezbollah at a high level."

He added that since Tenenbaum was arrested in Lebanon, "...we affirm that it is the legitimate and legal right of the resistance to capture and hold him".

Israel maintains that Tenenbaum was kidnapped in Europe, while travelling on private business, and denies that he is a serving army officer.

On Monday, the Israeli ambassador to Switzerland, Yitzhak Mayer, repeated Israel's assertion that Tenenbaum "was a private citizen who left Israel for his own reasons. He may have served in the army but everybody is a reservist in Israel."

Swiss police have been investigating Tenenbaum's disappearance, but have found no evidence that he was snatched on Swiss soil.

Hezbollah's announcement of the kidnapping came on the eve of a last-ditch summit underway in Egypt between Israel and the Palestinians. The hastily convened meeting, which is being attended by President Clinton, is aimed at preventing an all-out war between the two sides.

swissinfo with agencies

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