Date: January 2, 2000
"The Mystery of Guy Hever"
By: Sam Orbaum
Sympathy for the MIA families, yes, Rena Hever is like everyone else in the
country. But she feels something else for these anguished
people, something unimaginable: envy. She is the mother of an
M -- a Missing. Her son's mysterious fate is not a cause
celebre, doesn't rate front-page headlines. Guy Hever is not
on the national agenda. Guy is unknown, and his family suffers
alone. He was a soldier when he disappeared two and a half
years ago, while on duty on the Golan. Nothing more is known.
No one just disappears in this country, Rena reminds herself
-- over and over and over. It can't be, it's not possible. But
Guy has disappeared. "I don't know, maybe a spaceship took
him," Rena says sardonically. Guy loved -- loves -- science
fiction. His mom doesn't believe in it, but there aren't many
options to believe in. She clings to a certainty that her boy
is still alive. Almost every earthly possibility has been
discounted, including the most absurd theories: that he's been
hitchhiking around the country, that he became a Buddhist or
Beduin, that he's been communing with nature. For one thing,
"Guy hates nature. He's a home boy, loves his room, his books,
his music." And, Rena says, he knows she worries. "If he
didn't call, it's because they wouldn't let him." With no
clues, and so much time elapsed, the establishment can only
shrug its collective shoulders. Everyone agrees that it's not
possible for anyone to vanish. Everyone agrees there is simply
no explanation for this. "Barak told me that there's never
been anything like this in Israel. They're always found.
Always." The prime minister is a neighbor of the Hever family
in Kohav Yair. It hasn't helped. Rena, however, does offer an
explanation, and it's plausible: he is being held by the
Syrians. They have an inhuman penchant for incarcerating
people for years without informing anyone, and the single
shred of eyewitness evidence -- together with a bizarre,
unrelated incident -- leave open the chance that Guy is in
Syria, still alive.
Rena and her husband Eitan last saw their son on August 16, 1997. Later that same day, he disappeared from his base in the southern Golan. "He was with a fine group of boys, but their officers were awful -- this was well known among the soldiers' families. And Guy had it especially rough, because he's not a social type. The officers picked on him for that. He'd say 'Leave me alone,' and they'd say 'Oh yeah? Leave me alone? We'll show you.' They tormented him. We didn't know.
On the night of August 16, there was a sort of social meeting, and they were told to put stickers on the weapons -- it was a kind of game, like something from kindergarten: one group competing against the other. He said to his commander, 'Come on, this is silly, leave me out of it.' And besides, he said, the officers were compelling them to vandalize army property.
"They threatened to put him on trial, so he agreed to participate. But they punished him anyway, with lengthy guard duty, and again threatened him with a trial. At that point he disappeared. He wasn't even seen leaving the camp."
Later, however, a reliable witness came forward and reported that Guy was seen at Katzabiya Junction -- heading in the direction of the Syrian border. Guy, 20 at the time, was not the type to act suicidally -- such as crossing the forebidding border in a class-A IDF uniform. So what was Guy doing there? Rena has been wracking her brains for two and a half years. There is no answer.
But if he HAD crossed the border...
"Something happened there, in 1978, that was never reported. Two Germans were traveling in the area, and they accidentally crossed the border." They were here on a program for conscientious objectors called Operation Atonement, allowing them to do their German army service in Israel as volunteers.
"Eventually, I found them. What happened was, a friend refused to accept that they simply disappeared. He went back and forth along the border with pictures of the Germans, and went to all the coffee houses. No one knew anything. Suddenly, an Israeli army jeep pulled up, and an officer told them two words that they said they'll never forget: 'ra'iti otam' (I saw them).
"They crossed into Syria without documents, only maps. For the Syrians, that's enough: you're spies. "The German foreign minister, Hans Genscher, was due to visit Syria, and he said he wouldn't go unless he was given information about his citizens. Great pressure was put on the Syrians, and after holding the Germans for a year, in secret, they freed them." Rena spoke with one of them.
She has spoken to German officials, to French officials. To the UN, the Red Cross, the Palestinians, to Arab MKs. Prime ministers Barak and Netanyahu have listened. She has spoken to everyone she can think of, but still, there has been no groundswell of support, no national clamor. The anemic publicity has handicapped the Hevers. "When I went to the Red Cross," Rena recalls, "I found that they hadn't even heard of Guy. I went to the Foreign Ministry. They didn't know who I was. But they've tried very hard to help me. They say this can't be happening, it's just not possible." She praises the "fantastic support" from Lova Eliav, who "believes the country has to come to understand there are five MiAs, not four."
She has spoken to the Baumel family, who have suffered as she has, but for 17 years. "I was deeply moved by them. Where do they get the strength?" Numbed by unrelenting heartache, Rena softly evokes pitiful comparison with the saddest families in the land. "My situation is ten times worse than Arad and the others," she says. They have the world working for them. Rena can't even enlist her neighbor.
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