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5 Shevat 5762   16:07  Friday January 18, 2002    Jerusalem Post Newspaper : Online

MIA families see UNIFIL videos

By David Rudge

JERUSALEM (January 18) - The families of the three soldiers abducted by Hizbullah more than 15 months ago last night viewed two video tapes filmed by UNIFIL soldiers after their kidnapping.

According to reports from UN offices in Jerusalem, the screenings were interrupted when the father of one of the soldiers tried to take still photographs from the television screen. UN officials reportedly stopped the screening until the camera was removed and placed in the keeping of lawyer Haim Cohen, representing Haim Avraham, father of St.-Sgt. Binyamin Avraham.

The families were also viewed several items found in the abandoned getaway vehicles.

"In the video taken at the time of the kidnapping, you could see smoke coming from the jeep, but the rest was obscured by a hill. In the other video, taken the following day, you could see items in the vehicles," said Avraham, noting the faces of Hizbullah men who were apparently trying to stop UNIFIL troops from removing the vehicles had been obscured. "This has been one of the hardest of days for us. We also saw some 17 items, some with bloodstains, out of 53 items in the hands of the UN," he said.

St.-Sgts. Avraham and Omar Suwayed and Sgt. Adi Avitan were abducted on October 7, 2000. Nothing has been heard of them, since then and Hizbullah has consistently refused to allow Red Cross visits, insisting that any verifiable information would require the release of Lebanese and Palestinians held by Israel.

Three months ago, the IDF announced the three were presumed dead and their place of burial unknown.

The decision was taken on the basis of what was reported to be reliable evidence and the Avraham and Avitan families sat shiva, although the family of Suwayed said they would continue to believe he was alive unless there is concrete proof one way or the other.

Nevertheless, the families have continued to press the UN to release video tapes, documents, and other information relating to the kidnapping. Last month, they viewed photographs of items found in the vehicles and received DNA results from bloodstains found on items in one the cars. The results showed the blood belonged to Avraham and Avitan. Suwayed was apparently taken in the second vehicle.

Avraham said they had information that the UN also has other documentation, including data pointing to the fate of their sons, and they are insisting on receiving it on humanitarian grounds.

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