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Copyright 2001 Jerusalem Post
Name Of Newspaper

January 10, 2001

HEADLINE: Father of MIA seeks candidates' help

BYLINE: Margot Dudkevitch

Yona Baumel, whose son Zachary and fellow soldiers Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz were declared missing in the battle of Sultan Yakoub in June 1982, called on both prime-ministerial candidates to do everything possible to bring the boys home.

For nearly 19 years, the soldiers' families have met with government leaders and officials to demand that the issue of their sons' return remains forefront in all government policies.

Disappointed but not ready to give up the fight, Baumel said he expects whichever candidate is elected, whether it be Prime Minister Ehud Barak or opposition leader MK Ariel Sharon, to take a stronger stand in the future and to link any freeing of terrorists held by Israel to supplying verifiable information regarding the three.

"Up until now, everything Arafat has said on the matter has proven to be outright lies," he said.

In the past few days, members of Sharon's campaign headquarters contacted Baumel and Daniel Grisaro, spokesman of the International Coalition for Missing Israeli soldiers. "I call on [the next prime minister] to bring to the forefront issues concerning the Sultan Yakoub MIAs, IAF navigator Ron Arad, and the three abducted soldiers abducted from Har Dov and the Israeli civilian [kidnapped soon afterward]. The government must demand from all those involved in peace negotiations that the process will not move ahead until all the boys are returned home in the framework of trust-building measures," said Grisaro.

Meanwhile, Baumel and his wife Miriam continue in their efforts to uncover more information regarding their son. "We still maintain contacts in the Arab world, but the situation is frustrating. If I was convinced that Zach was dead, it might be easier, but I still have a strong belief and hope that he will return home alive," he said.

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