From AP, Aug. 26:
BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a TV interview aired Sunday that he would not have ordered the capture of two Israeli soldiers if he had known it would lead to such a war.
Hezbollah guerrillas killed three Israeli soldiers and seized two more in a cross-border raid July 12, which sparked 34 days of fighting that ended August 14.
“We did not think, even 1%, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not,” he said in an interview with a Lebanon TV station.
He said Italy and the United Nations had made contacts to help mediate a prisoner swap with Israel, but did not specify whether they had contacted Hezbollah directly.
“The Italians seem to be getting close and are trying to get into the subject. The United Nations is interested,” Nasrallah said. “The Israelis have acknowledged that this (issue) is headed for negotiations and a (prisoners) exchange.”
The guerrilla leader did not specify in which capacity Italy had expressed interest on its own or on Israel’s behalf.
A senior Israeli government official declined to comment on such contacts, but said Israel “does not negotiate with terrorists” and continues to demand the unconditional release of the two soldiers.
Earlier, Israeli vice-premier Shimon Peres said there were no negotiations on a prisoner release.
See our last post on the Lebanon crisis.