June 21, 2004



High Court Upholds MIA Family Petition:

IDF Cannot Declare

Sultan Yaqub MIAs Dead



“They improperly disregarded reports, including eyewitness, that the MIAs were alive. The report is a glaring example of the weakness of "virtual” conclusions based on computer projections. To declare soldiers dead based on this

 is both immoral and misleading.”

 (Yona Baumel -- father of Sultan Yaqub MIA Zachary Baumel) 



Israel’s Supreme Court today upheld a petition filed by the family of Israeli MIA Yehuda Katz. Katz went missing along with Zachary Baumel and Tzvi Feldman in a battle with Syrian and Palestinian units near the Lebanese village of Sultan Yaqub in 1982. The Court extended its injunction against the declaration for six months, and has ordered the IDF to come to an agreement with the families regarding the handling of the case. 


Over the last year an IDF committee reexamined the question of the Sultan Yaqub MIAs, and concluded that the MIAs could be declared “dead with burial site unknown”. Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, Maj.-General Gil Regev, accepted the findings and passed it on to the IDF's Chief Rabbi, Brig.-General Israel Weiss, who concurred with the committee’s ruling.

Israel’s Haaretz daily reported that the petition states that Weiss consulted with former Chief Rabbis Ovadia Yosef, Avraham Shapira, Mordechai Eliahu and the present Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Amar, all of whom approved Weiss' decision. The family says the rabbis were only presented with part of the evidence and that they did not see "evidence in the army's possession that contradicts the conclusion that Yehuda is no longer living." Former Chief Rabbi Eliahu has withdrawn his support for Weiss' opinion due to the petition and some of the other rabbis have voiced reservations. Major Generals (res.) Matan Vilnai and Yehuda Segev, who both served as head of the personnel directorate, submitted affidavits in support of the Katz family's position. Over the years there have been many reports indicating that some of the Sultan Yaqub MIAs may be alive.



“It is understandable that after 22 years of being unable to solve this mystery, Manpower Chief General Gil Regev would want to clean the table before his retirement.  Declaring live soldiers dead is not the way.  The IDF has committed a grave injustice to these soldiers and their families.  It must never happen again.”

 (Yona Baumel -- father of Sultan Yaqub MIA Zachary Baumel)