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Copyright 2000
The Jerusalem Post

November 10, 2000

HEADLINE: Kidnapped Soldiers Dead, Newspaper Says

BYLINE: Arieh O'Sullivan

The three IDF soldiers ambushed and abducted by Hizbullah on the Lebanese border last month died in captivity, the Paris based Al-Watan al-Arabi reported yesterday. The Arabic-language newspaper said theat St.Sgt. Omar Sawayid, St.-Sgt. Avraham Binyamin, and Sgt. Adi Avitan "died of complications which developed after the kidnapping."

The IDF would not comment. However the army's Northern Command is looking into foreign reports that the three likely died from lack of immediate medical treatment, since they suffered severe wounds during the ambush.

The IDF refuses to disclose its opinion of their condition and has consistently stuck to the standard line that the abducted men are presumed alive unless proven otherwise.

Al-Watan said that the bodies were being kept in different parts of Lebanon, in locations unknown to the Lebanese government.

The IDF initially said that the soldiers did not appear to have been hurt in the kidnapping. But it later said that DNA testing of the blood at the scene revealed that all were injured, apparently by two rockets fired at the command car they drove to the disputed border gate near the Shaba farms on Mount Dov.

"It is clear that there is room for concern just from the fact that Hizbullah stubbornly resuses to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to see the kidnapped soldiers," one IDF source said.

The soldiers' families have been meeting with high-ranking officials in the United States this week, in an effort to increase efforts to located their loved ones.

Itim contributed to this report.

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