mia2b.jpg (4487 bytes)

Copyright 2001
Jerusalem Post - Ha'aretz

October 30, 2001

HEADLINE: Tannenbaum believed still held by Hizbullah

BYLINE: Arieh O'Sullivan

JERUSALEM (October 30) - Businessman and reserve colonel Elhanan Tannenbaum remains missing and is believed held by Hizbullah. Abducted a year ago, the IDF refused to say whether any word on his condition has been received.

OC Manpower Maj.-Gen. Gil Regev declined to comment on Tannenbaum's fate in a meeting with reporters in Tel Aviv last night.

Tannenbaum, 57, disappeared shortly before the October 7, 2000, abduction of three IDF soldiers on Mount Dov by Hizbullah gunmen. A few days later Hizbullah stunned the country when it announced that it was holding a fourth Israeli.

Since then, Tannenbaum's family has joined with the families of the kidnapped soldiers to secure information on their health and press for their return.

Events surrounding Tannenbaum's capture were never clear. According to some reports, he had business dealings with Arabs, and they abducted him in Europe and handed him over to Hizbullah.

Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has claimed that Tannenbaum was a Mossad agent and was lured to Beirut on the premise that he was going to recruit a spy.

Officials here and in the Israeli Embassy in Berne, Switzerland, where Tannenbaum was reportedly snatched, stressed that although he held the rank of colonel, he was not involved in any military or intelligence activities but was simply a private businessman. Israel has flatly denied he had anything to do with the Mossad.

Hizbullah has never publicly commented on Tannenbaum's condition nor allowed representatives of any international organization to examine him.

Yossi Melman
TANNENBAUM: Still no word

On the day that families of the three kidnapped IDF soldiers were informed there is little chance that they are alive, the daughter of Col. (res.) Elhanan Tannenbaum, another kidnapping victim, said yesterday she is unaware of any new developments in her father's case.

"We have no new information about our father," said Karen Tannenbaum. "This is a very sad day for us because our family's destiny is now interwoven with that of the families of the three soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah," she said.

Tannenbaum, a reserve artillery officer and Tel Aviv businessman, flew from Israel to Brussels on October 3, 2000. For more than 10 days, his wife and two children did not hear from him, and on October 15, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah announced in Beirut that his organization was holding a "Mossad officer."

Israel vigorously denied Tannenbaum was a Mossad officer, and Nasrallah countered in another press conference that Tannenbaum was not kidnapped, but had "walked in on his own two feet."

Since then, Israel has been conducting a worldwide investigation into the circumstances of the businessman's disappearance but, at the request of the defense establishment and the family, the courts have placed a gag order on the inquiry.

Nonetheless, it appears Tannenbaum went to Belgium to meet a one or more people with whom he was acquainted, apparently for business. From there, he was seemingly lured elsewhere - apparently to an Arab country.

Some reports said he went to Abu Dhabi or another of the emirates and from there he was taken to Beirut, against his will. Le Figaro reported that Tannenbaum had been accompanied by an Israeli Arab.

After Hezbollah announced it was holding him, his family managed to send, through third parties, medicine for his asthma condition, and, according to some sources, he received the package. Since then, however, all parcels his family has tried to send him through the Red Cross have been returned, due, according to the organization, Hezbollah's refusal to accept them.

With the aid of the Foreign Ministry, the family has been trying, with no success, to establish contacts with foreign states that have connections to Lebanon. Most of the attempts have been conducted by the Germans, in particular the German intelligence chief, who has been to Beirut on several occasions.

From the little that is known about those contacts, it appears Hezbollah is demanding that Israel release all Arab prisoners from its jails for Tannenbaum's release. Sometimes the group also hints it wants Israel to make sure other prisoners, held in other countries, are released as well.

Return to Archive