Israeli heading home after five months in Libyan jailAugust 9th, 2010 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS
Vienna/Tel Aviv, Aug 9 (DPA) An Israeli held in Libya since March was on his way back to Israel Monday, after being released in a complex diplomatic deal, a senior Israeli diplomat confirmed.
Rafael (Rafram) Hadad, who holds dual Israeli and Libyan citizenship, had been arrested in Libya while on assignment to photograph Jewish heritage sites on behalf of a society representing Libyan Jews, according to Israeli media reports.
Hadad is expected back in Israel later in the day after a stopover in Vienna, Israel’s ambassador in Vienna, Aviv Shir-On, told DPA.
He said Hadad was flown to the Austrian capital Sunday night, where he was greeted by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
“He is in good health,” Shir-On said, adding that Hadad had been examined by a doctor in the Austrian capital.
Shir-On said that several diplomatic channels were used to secure his release, and that Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff had also played a role. The diplomat could not confirm that it was Schlaff’s private plane that carried Hadad to Vienna.
Media had reported that Lieberman asked Schlaff, with whom he has good ties and who also has business contacts with the Libyans, to intercede, after unsuccessful attempts to use contacts in France, Italy and the US.
Tripoli made Hadad’s release conditional on Israel allowing a Libyan-run ship to sail to the Gaza Strip with aid for the Israeli-blockaded area.
Israeli rejected this condition, but under a compromise, the vessel docked in the nearby Egyptian port of el-Arish and its aid was transferred from there to the strip.
Israel also agreed that Libya could build 20 prefabricated housing units in Gaza.
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