GENEVA, Switzerland -- Israel failed to release as promised all Palestinian prisoners in exchange for six Israelis last month, the International Committee of the Red Cross said today.
The organization said Israel agreed to release all prisoners in southern Lebanon -- some 4,300 people -- as well as 100 others held in Israeli prisons.
But 'a certain number' of prisoners were taken off buses leaving the Ansar camp in southern Lebanon and it is not known where they are now being held, the agency said in a statement.
Although mistakes can be made in a prisoner exchange of such size and at such short notice, the agency said, terms of the agreement must be 'strictly respected.'
It cited the case of one Palestinian prisoner, Ziad Mohamed Ahmed Abou Ein, who was being held in Israel where he had been visited by Red Cross delegates.
Although on a list of prisoners to be released Nov. 23 and 24, and approved by Israel, he was taken from a bus before being flown out, the agency said.
'This is not an isolated case,' it said.
Sources close to the Red Cross said Israel still holds 37 of the prisoners it had agreeed to release.
The Red Cross, guardian of the Geneva Conventions, believes the operation involving last-minute removal of the prisoners from special buses had been planned well in advance, the sources said.