Lebanese general arrested for drinking tea with IDF

Shown having tea with soldiers, walking with them in a courtyard of an army base.

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August 16, 2006 23:26
3 minute read.
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A Lebanese general was ordered arrested Wednesday for appearing in a videotape drinking tea with IDF soldiers who had occupied his south Lebanon barracks during their incursion of the country. Adnan Daoud was summoned and ordered held for questioning, Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat said in a statement. Daoud is commanding officer of the 1,000-strong joint police-army force that had positions in southern Lebanon and was based in Marjayoun. IDF troops seized the barracks there last week and held him and 350 soldiers for a day before allowing them to leave the occupied zone. The Lebanese garrison, which is lightly armed, did not resist the Israeli force which moved in armor into the base. In the videotape, aired on Israeli television and carried by a Lebanese TV station Wednesday, Daoud was shown having tea with smiling Israeli soldiers and walking with them in the base courtyard. "He was very polite with me," Daoud said of his first encounter with an Israeli colonel in this conflict or any other. It most likely will be the last. Daoud commands a joint police-army force of about 1,000 men, based in Marjayoun, a Christian town about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Israeli border. Israeli troops, part of an armored column that punctured deep into Lebanon last week, ended up on Daoud's doorstep and took over his base last Thursday - 4 days before a cease-fire took hold. "They came peacefully up to our gate, asking to speak with me by name," he said. Daoud described the encounter on the eve of his and other Lebanese forces and others taking up a peacekeeping role in the south of the country. He said his experience with the Israelis was pleasant and professional meeting and even touched on the possibility of future Israeli-Lebanese military relations in the south. "For four hours, I took him on a tour of our base," Daoud said of an Israeli official who introduced himself as Col. Ashaya. "It's the name of someone who guided the Jews in the Bible." "He was probably on an intelligence mission, and wanted to see if we had any Hezbollah in here," Daoud added. After their meeting, Ashaya left, Daoud said. An hour later, the bombs started falling. Four Israeli tanks rolled up to the entrance of the Lebanese barracks, Daoud said, blowing holes in a steel gate and shattering glass in guard houses. Lebanese soldiers did not fire back, and no one was hurt, he said. Daoud said he wasn't sure whether his counterpart's friendliness was a ruse, or whether the Israelis got their signals crossed and opened fire not knowing Ashaya had been there. Israeli troops seized the barracks and held Daoud and 350 soldiers for a day before allowing them to leave the occupied zone. Israeli warplanes fired missiles at their convoy as it headed north, killing 7 people. Israel said it was investigating as an accident. Israel left the base on Tuesday, part of a withdrawal from positions taken in a month of heavy ground fighting. Daoud's said his forces were only lightly armed, and surrendered their weapons when the Israelis demanded. Israeli troops locked the weapons in a room and later blew it up, Daoud said, pointing to the gaping hole and pile of concrete wreckage that used to be a wing of the military base. "They said, `We are an occupying army and now you are occupied,"' Daoud recalled another Israeli commander telling him, once he was taken captive and separated from lower-ranking soldiers. "I tried to refuse because they were Israelis and I am Lebanese and they are supposed to be the enemy." Lebanon considers itself in a state of war with Israel although it signed an armistice in 1949. To this day, Lebanon does not recognize the State of Israel. Lebanese law forbids any dealings with Israel. A Lebanese citizen faces arrest and prosecution. In 2000, after Israel withdrew its army from southern Lebanon, those who worked for the Israelis were arrested tried and given jail terms ranging from a few months to several years. Those civilians who fled to Israel and later returned were also arrested and given prison terms. To this day, Lebanon refuses entry to any foreigner who has an Israeli entry or exit stamp on his passport.

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