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The families of the three dead soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah whose bodies were returned earlier this year in a prisoner exchange deal said yesterday they are preparing to take legal action against elements they regard as being responsible for the deaths of their sons.

The families of First Sergeants Adi Avitan, Benny Avraham and Omar Suwad, represented by attorneys, Shimon Sheetrit and Ya'acov Neeman, released a statement saying they are planning to sue several bodies: Hezbollah and its secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah for murder and torture; Iran and its senior officials for encouraging, cooperating with, and financing the kidnapping by Hezbollah; Lebanon and its senior officials for not applying the sovereignty of that country to prevent the kidnapping; and the UN and its representatives for "helping the terror organization's people, before, during and after acts of kidnapping, torture and murder."

The UN is being accused of "refusing for more than a year, every request for cooperation with regard to the kidnapping, and for refusing to hand over videotapes, documents, or reports connected to the kidnapping."

The families explained that although the bodies of their sons are in Israel, "the families have not fallen silent and want justice for their boys," according to the statement. The lawsuits are expected to be filed in the United States. The Israeli government said it will not take a position on the legal action.