Footage of Jibril Deal soldiers aired

In special broadcast, Al-Jazeera shows Israelis in PLF captivity in Syria.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 12, 2010 07:25
1 minute read.
Yossef Groff.

yossef groff 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of Al Jazeera)

 
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A special broadcast aired Thursday by Al-Jazeera and picked up by both Channel 10 and Channel 2 showed file footage of IDF prisoners of war in Palestinian captivity in Syria.

The footage, recorded in 1983, featured interviews conducted with the prisoners by their captors during IDF Operation Peace for Galilee. In the interviews, the prisoners – identified as Yossef Groff and Nissim Shalem – were asked in Hebrew to state their opinions about the massacre at the Palestinian refugee camp in Sabra and Shatila, along with other regional matters.

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“Whoever does such things is a Nazi, Hitler. It doesn’t matter if he’s Jewish, he’s Hitler,” Shalem said in the video. He also expressed opposition toward Israeli settlement activity and the notion of a “greater Israel.”


On Thursday evening, Shalem told Channel 2 that his statement had been coerced. “They put me in rooms with all kinds of films … I told them, it wasn’t us [who carried out the Sabra and Shatila massacre], IDF soldiers would never do such a thing, not my friends,” he said. “You couldn't tell them (the Palestinians) the truth.”

Groff, meanwhile, was shown criticizing the reasoning behind the massacre. “The world will come to know the magnitude of the Sabra and Shatila massacre very soon, and because the PLO weapons weren’t there anymore [at the time of the attack], very soon people will start asking, why were so many killed?” he told his interviewer. “Tonight I will probably have many dreams, and it will be difficult.”

Salem and Groff were captured by the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) in Lebanon in 1982, and returned to Israel in May 1985 along with captured IDF soldier Hezi Shai. They were released in exchange for 1,150 security prisoners – among them Hamas founding member Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Japanese terrorist Kozo Okamoto – in a deal known colloquially as the Jibril Deal, so named after PLF head Ahmed Jibril. 

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