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Copyright 2002 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post

August 12, 2002

HEADLINE:Tannenbaum's children send birthday gift to captive father

The family of businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum, being held hostage by Hizbullah after being kidnapped abroad, are hoping to send him words of encouragement and hope via the Red Cross Monday to mark his birthday.

His son Ori and daughter Keren have written a letter, and the family has also prepared a model house made of marzipan which they will give to Red Cross officials today with a request to try to relay them to Tannenbaum.

"The marzipan house is to remind our father that despite the terrible place where he is being held against his will, there is a warm home waiting for him here. It also represents our joint past and future as a family," Ori said yesterday. "In the letter, we ask him to take care of himself, and we pledge not to give up until he is safely back home with us."

Elhanan Tannenbaum, a reserve colonel, was abducted while on a trip abroad in October 2000, shortly after the kidnapping of St.-Sgts. Benny Avraham and Omar Suwayeed and Sgt. Adi Avitan in a Hizbullah ambush in the Mount Dov area.

Earlier this year, the IDF declared the three soldiers dead and their place of burial unknown on the basis of what was reported to be reliable information. Tannenbaum, however, is presumed to be alive.

Negotiations with Hizbullah over a prisoner exchange, being conducted through the auspices of German mediators, have so far failed to bear fruit, despite various reports of progress in the foreign press.

Hizbullah has refused repeated requests by International Committee of the Red Cross officials to be allowed to visit the hostages.

Nevertheless, Ori Tannenbaum revealed that the first parcel sent to his father had been accepted by Hizbullah.

"That package contained medication for our father, who suffers from chronic asthma, and we know that it reached Hizbullah. The organization has refused to accept any subsequent parcels, but that does not mean that we are going to stop trying," he said.

"The letter and the marzipan model house are to mark our father's 56th birthday, his second in captivity, and give him hope. We know he is alive, but every day that passes is another in which he suffers in captivity and remains away from us. Every day that passes, his life is in danger, and everything must be done to secure his release and safe return."

Ori said that from the family's point of view, the key lies in Syria, which as the controlling power in Lebanon is also responsible for the actions of Hizbullah.

"Syria is not an underground terrorist body. It is a sovereign state, a member of the UN Security Council, and a country which is in desperate need of Western aid," he said.

"Syria can and must be held accountable for this kidnapping which, in itself, should be of concern to anyone who is innocently planning to board a plane. If my father can be kidnapped on Western soil, so can any American or European citizen."

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