Israel to release three of five Lebanese on board Gaza aid convoy
Israel is likely to release just three of the five Lebanese detained after Israel's deadly assault on a convoy of aid ships headed for Gaza, a Lebanese government source said Tuesday.
Israel had informed Lebanon of its offer through the United Nations Interim Forces in southern Lebanon, the source added.
At least nine of the pro-Palestinian activists on board the six aid ships were killed in the Israeli assault. Several hundred are now being held in an Israeli prison, DPA reported.
The three Lebanese to be released were the Beirut correspondent of the Doha-based al Jazeera television channel, an al Jazeera cameraman, and Hussein Shaker, a member of the Lebanese delegation, the source said.
According to the source, Israel had said it would keep the head of the Lebanese delegation, Hani Suleiman - who was wounded in the attack - and another member of the delegation.
The Lebanese government is currently holding an emergency cabinet session to discuss the Israeli offer. Sources inside the Lebanese cabinet told the German News Agency dpa that Lebanon would demand Israel release all five.
"Any Lebanese who stays inside the Israeli territories will be considered a hostage," a source inside the Lebanese cabinet who is close to the Shiite movement Hezbollah told dpa on condition of anonymity.
In 2006 Hezbollah snatched two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack and demanded the release of all Arab and Lebanese prisoners inside Israeli jails.
The incident led Israel to launch a 33-day assault against Lebanon during which 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, were killed and some 160 Israeli soldiers died.
Meanwhile, some 400 demonstrators gathered in front of the UN headquarters in Beirut to protest the Israeli raid.
Shouting slogans such as "Terrorist Israel" and "End the blockade of Gaza and Its People," the crowd called for the immediate release of the detained activists.