Family photos of a hostage
Relations between Israel and Lebanon have long been volatile, fuelled by the ongoing Palestinian conflict and the apparent inability of the Lebanese government to control Hezbollah, the Shia political and paramilitary organisation. 

The kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah last summer, culminating in a devastating 34-day war, highlighted the widespread use of hostages as "bargaining chips" in the ongoing conflict between the countries.

Hostage taking has become so institutionalised that Israel's Supreme Court legalised it in 1997, effectively allowing the government to use prisoners as political pawns. Though the law was later revoked it set a dangerous precedent, further legitimising the tactic. 

Yet, the families of these captured soldiers do not see them as "bargaining chips", but as fathers, sons and husbands who have been cruelly taken away from them.  

People & Power examines the policy of prisoner exchange and what it means for the families of those involved. The film also takes a closer look at individual cases, such as that of Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese citizen incarcerated in Israel for 29 years, and the ongoing fight for his release.

Watch this episode of People & Power here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

This episode of People & Power aired from 22 April 2007


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