Text of a report in Arabic from the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat, Aug. 31:
Syrian group threatens to copy Hezbollah’s action, abduct Israeli soldiers
A secret organization in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights has threatened to abduct Israeli soldiers to swap them with Syrian prisoners in Israeli jails “if four of them were not released unconditionally.” Midhat Salih, a former deputy for the Golan, told Al-Hayat yesterday that this organization’s members “are a group of young men who want to copy Hezbollah’s experience” in the heights that Israel has been occupying since 1967.
This organization is called the National Resistance Men in the Occupied Syrian Golan and it is the third statement it issues since it announced that it carried out the two operations of setting on fire an Israeli camp in Majd al-Shams, the largest occupied village, and detonating an explosive device near an Israeli patrol last July.
The statement, a copy of which was received by Al-Hayat, said: “We call on the occupation authorities to release immediately and unconditionally the prisoners of the occupied Syrian Golan. We would take the necessary measures to release them if they did not respond to this humanitarian demand. The Lebanese model, the Hezbollah one, will not be far from us in implementation and preparation for releasing our prisoners. Forewarned is forearmed and tomorrow is not that far off.”
Salih said: “The organization members are nationalist youths who want to liberate the prisoners and copy the Hezbollah experience. The equation is simple: If Israel does not appeal [respond] to the international appeals, there will be a step to abduct Israeli soldiers to swap them for the prisoners.” He added: “I do not know them but I received the statement from inside [the Golan] and I distributed it.”
There are 22 Syrian prisoners in Israeli jails but the “resistance men” are focusing on releasing four of them only because they have spent more than 22 years in jail. Salih said the statement was issued on the 22nd anniversary of the arrest of Bashar al-Muqt, Sidqi al-Muqt, Asim Aluni and Sitan al-Wali. The statement included “a greeting to the Lebanese national resistance men, Hezbollah, and its secretary-general Hasan Nasrallah.”
Dr Majid Abu-Salih, the spokesman for the “Popular Committee for the Liberation of the Golan” which announced in June “there is no organizational link between the committee and the organization”, told “Al-Hayat” that the “statement can be taken seriously if the organization does really exist in the occupied Golan.”
The first Syrian talk about the resistance in the Golan first appeared at the end of 2003 when former Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shar’a hinted at the Syrians’ possible move in the five villages in the occupied part of the heights. President Bashar al-Asad announced on Army Day at the beginning of this month that the “battle continues as long as our territory is occupied and our rights usurped.” He pointed out that “it is Israel that is occupying our Arab territories in Palestine, the Golan and south Lebanon.”
Parliament Speaker Mahmud al-Abrash said at the time that the “popular resistance exists in the Golan and is organizing itself. We have international obligations (a reference to the disengagement agreement in the Golan) but these do not prevent us from responding at the proper time and in the proper way.”