BERLIN – Norwegian troops helped two Lebanese arrested by the Israel Defense Forces to escape from Israeli jail, a Norwegian journalist claims in a new book.
The author, Odd Karsten Tveit, covered the Middle East for many years and served in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon,
whose members – according to the book "Goodbye Lebanon – Israel's
First Defeat", helped the prisoners escape from the al-Khaim Prison in southern Lebanon.
The incident took place in 1992. According to the book, the Norwegian forces feared that two prisoners who managed to escape from the detention facility would be tortured or executed in Israel if caught by the IDF or South Lebanon Army, and decided to help them out.
Tveit says that the soldiers dressed the detainees in UNIFIL uniform and included them in a UN convoy which left southern Lebanon through roadblocks set up by the Israeli forces.
In interview to Norwegian media, Tveit noted that the incident was kept a secret for more than 18 years and that he was given permission to reveal its details only recently by Hagrup Haukland, the former commander of UNIFIL's Norwegian battalion, who made the decision to help the two prisoners.
According to Tveit, the UNIFIL headquarters and senior Norwegian army officials were not informed of the decision.
The book states that one of the incidents which prompted Haukland to help the prisoners was when Moshe Tamir, one of IDF's top commanders in Lebanon, arrived at the UN camp and accused the Norwegian commander of "sheltering terrorists" after the two had escaped from the prison.
According to the book, immediately after the confrontation with Tamir, Haukland ordered his forces "to smuggle the two Lebanese immediately" and decided to hide them in a bus used by Norwegian soldiers on leave.
"The Israelis did not suspect that the Lebanese are hiding among our soldiers," the book says. When the bus arrived in Beirut, the two were free to go.
Norwegian daily Aftonposten reported that the two held a press conference in September 1992 and spoke about their escape, without revealing the help they had received from the Norwegian force. According to the report, the name of one of the prisoners was Daoud Faraj.