The chief of the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah said his organization did not tell France that the two Israeli soldiers it captured in 2006 were alive and declined to give any clues to their fate.
"This is not true," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told Al Jazeera television in an interview aired on Monday, when asked about Hezbollah envoys' "confirmation" to France earlier this month that the two men were alive.
Hezbollah's seizure of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12, 2006, resulted in a 34-day war between the Iranian-backed group and Israel in which about 1,200 Lebanese and 157 Israelis were killed.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on July 15 that he "understood" the soldiers were alive after discussing the issue with Hezbollah envoys during talks with Lebanese political leaders in the French capital.
"I understood yes. As I really understood, yes," Kouchner said then, when asked by an Israeli reporter if they were alive.
Nasrallah said he was the only Hezbollah official who could answer questions about the fate of the soldiers.
Nasrallah said there was a possibility of them being released in May, but did not want to give them back for free. I guess he figured that they planned for three months to carry out the kidnappings, and he wanted something in return.
There is still hope that they are alive, but that hope is dwindling. Especially since Hamas and Hezbollah have both refused to provide proof of the hostages safety.