The Iranian government says that it is still searching for the four Iranian nationals with diplomatic status who disappeared during Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. On the 40th anniversary of their disappearance, Iran's foreign ministry said, "We are continuing serious efforts to determine the fate of the four abducted diplomats."
The ministry criticised "the lack of cooperation on the part of the international community and human rights organisations to determine the fate of the abductees."
Three of the missing Iranians were diplomats: Ahmad Motevasselian, the Military Attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut; Mohsen Moussavi, the Charge d'Affaires at the embassy; and Taghi Rastegar-Moghadam, an embassy employee. The fourth was Kazem Akhavan, a photojournalist with the country's official news agency, IRNA.
They were apparently kidnapped on 4 July, 1982 in northern Lebanon at a checkpoint manned by the Christian Lebanese Forces militia. Tehran believes that they were subsequently handed over to the Israeli military.
Today is marked as the 40th anniversary of Iranian diplomats kidnapped in Lebanon. pic.twitter.com/if76MW2krd
— Tehran Times (@TehranTimes79) July 5, 2022
According to Fars News Agency, despite claims by Israel that the diplomats were killed after being abducted by the militia, the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah says that it has evidence that the men are still alive and currently in Israeli captivity. Indeed, in May 2016, former Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan announced that Iran had corroborative evidence proving that the abductees were still alive and imprisoned by Israel.
"On the basis of proof, we claim that they are alive and held captive by the Zionist regime," said Dehqan.
The foreign ministry in Tehran added that it has renewed its calls to the UN and relevant human rights agencies to pursue the cases of the four Iranian diplomats and punish the perpetrators of the crime. "While appreciating the efforts of the Republic of Lebanon to determine the fate of the abducted Iranian diplomats, the Islamic Republic stresses the need for the formation of a fact-finding committee by the two sides in cooperation with international bodies."