Abbas welcomes Israel-Hezbollah prisoner swap

July 16th, 2008 - 8:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Ramallah, July 16 (DPA) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Wednesday the ongoing prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah and in a statement congratulated the families of the “liberated prisoners”. Abbas, who was on a visit to Malta, extended his wishes to the family of Lebanese fighter Samir Kuntar, seen as a hero in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories but in Israel as a cruel and callous murderer.

He was one of five Lebanese prisoners due for release Wednesday as part of a UN-backed exchange. The deal would also see Israel transfer the remains of 199 “enemy combatants” to Lebanon in return for the remains of two of its soldiers captured by the militant Shia Hezbollah July 12, 2006.

Kuntar and his men carried out a bloody raid on the northern Israeli town of Nahariya in 1979, killing four Israelis, including a father and child. He was 16 at the time and acting for the Palestinian Liberation Front.

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