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Israeli Officials View UN Lebanon Tapes - 2001-08-08


After viewing videos related to the abduction of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations said there is "room for hope" that the soldiers might still be alive.

Ambassador Yehuda Lancry and several other Israeli officials viewed two videos and also inspected seven items related to the abductions. The videos were made by U.N. peacekeeping troops in Lebanon and one of them shows vehicles believed used in the taking of the Israeli soldiers last October.

At the time, a U.N. commander in the field said the amount of blood in the vehicles indicated that the Israelis may have died.

But Ambassador Lancry told reporters he does not share that conclusion. "We viewed some blood stains in the vehicles and the items," he said, "but in my opinion, in our opinion, we do think that there was no significant quantity of blood."

But Mr. Lancry said a further analysis will await another viewing of the videos and items from the scene. That second viewing, involving families of the soldiers and Israeli forensic experts is expected to take place in Geneva within a few days.

One of the videos, taken a day after the abductions, shows members of the Hezbollah group demanding that U.N. peacekeepers give up the vehicles apparently used in the incident. The tape shown to the Israelis has been edited with the faces of Hezbollah members obscured. U.N. officials say they do not want to put the United Nations in the position of providing intelligence information and possibly compromise the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.