"The two captives are getting the same treatment previous captive Elhanan Tennenbaum received," said Hizbullah politburo member Muhammad Kumati, in what seems to be a first signal that IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser are still alive.
In an interview published by Arab-Israeli al-Sinara newspaper on Thursday, Kumati stated that Islam orders all its believers to treat captives and prisoners humanely.
Up until now, Hizbullah has remained silent on the captives' condition. If Kumati's statements are correct, this could mean a change in the organization's policy.
In the past, Hizbullah's leader Hassan Nasrallah refused the Red Cross' repeated pleas to check on the captives' condition. The organization also refused to give the soldiers personal belongings and letters from their family members.
Kumati made his remarks in response to claims made by an Israeli lawyer, who said that Lebanese prisoners held in Israel did not get humanitarian treatment.
"We treat our prisoners just as past prisoners held by Hizbullah stated. They themselves testified to the way they were treated… When an enemy soldier becomes captive, he gets humanitarian treatment in a way that allows him to live in a normal and humane manner, his human side is respected while his political, military and security side are not considered," Kumati said.
'A new victory for Hizbullah'
Asked specifically whether the soldiers were receiving the same treatment as Tennenbaum, Kumati said “yes, as I have said, the prisoners are being treated humanely; it is ridiculous to say that we are hurting them, or, for example, giving them food that is not worthy of human consumption – as the Israelis did with our prisoners.
“We know howIsrael treats the Lebanese and Palestinian and Arab prisoners; testimonies of prisoners who returned from (Hizbullah captivity) prove that our treatment is different than the treatment described by prisoners who were freed from Israeli jails,” he said.
Kumati stressed that he was speaking of the treatment given to prisoners currently held by Hizbullah.
“As I said before, (they are being treated) in a way that is respectful of their humanity. The treatment does not change from one person to another,” the Hizbullah member said.
On the failed negotiations he said, "I think that the American government is what is keeping Israel from reaching any results on the release of the prisoners. There is pressure from Israeli public opinion to reach achievements on the matter of the captives, but Israel is not doing it because of American pressure.
I am talking about policies; this would give Hizbullah another great victory that would affect its supporters in Lebanon… eventually we will get to the point where Israel will have to get into this matter seriously and then a new victory for Hizbullah will be achieved through a prisoner release," Kumati said.