Iran denies Hizbullah moving captives

OC Northern Command: IDF not ruling out groud operation inside Lebanon.

halutz fists 298 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
halutz fists 298 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Iranian Foreign Ministry described as "nonsense" on Friday the allegation that two IDF soldiers captured by the Lebanese Hizbullah were being transferred to Iran. On Thursday, Israel said it had information that the guerrillas who captured the two soldiers were trying to transfer them to Iran in an apparent move to prevent the IDF from rescuing them. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev did not disclose the source of his information. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi categorically denied the allegation. "This regime (Israel) is trapped in its homemade crisis and these sort of accusations are simply nonsense," he was quoted as saying by IRNA, Iran's official news agency. The IDF released the names of the two soldiers on Thursday. According to the IDF Spokesperson, the two reserve are Ehud Goldwasser, 31, from Nahariya, and Eldad Regev, 26, from Kiryat Motzkin. Hizbullah guerrillas, who are backed by Iran, seized the soldiers Wednesday in a cross-border raid. OC Northern Command Lt.-Gen. Udi Adam said Thursday evening that the army has hit hundreds of targets in Lebanon since Wednesday night. Adam added that Israel has not ruled out sending ground forces into Lebanon. He told reporters that even Northern Command had come under Katyusha fire during the day. "I imagine over time that we will be able to rid ourselves of this threat entirely," he said. Earlier in the day, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz confirmed Thursday that the soldiers who had been kidnapped by Hizbullah a day before were still alive. "We know the soldiers are alive and we hold the Lebanese government completey responsible," he said during a tour of the North. Israel was not at war with Lebanon but at a "high volume crisis," he added. He said that a new reality has been created on the northern border that started yesterday with the deaths of eight soldiers. The focus of the operation in Lebanon would be to restore Israel's deterrent capability against those in Lebanon, referring to Hizbullah, who thought the IDF was irrelevant, he explained. "The goal is to create a new reality in the north," Halutz told reporters, "Such attacks will not be tolerated." Halutz said the north was well protected by shelters but he could not guarantee that Israeli civilians would not be harmed during the current campaign in Lebanon. He also revealed that OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam had set up an investigative committee into Wednesday's kidnapping, which would be headed by a major general.