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Copyright 2002 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post

September 17, 2002

HEADLINE: MIA families to testify before Congress

BYLINE: David Rudge

Family members of businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and three soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah two years ago are heading to Washington at the beginning of October to attend a hearing of a subcommittee on human rights of the House of Representatives.

Tannenbaum's son, Ori, said representatives of the UN and the Red Cross would be summoned to testify about the failed attempts to make contact with the hostages and the actions of UN officials and troops regarding the kidnapping of the three soldiers.

The representatives of the families are slated to be accompanied throughout the visit by Minister-without-Portfolio Dan Naveh.

Tannenbaum, a reserve colonel, was kidnapped by Hizbullah while on a trip abroad shortly after the organization abducted the three soldiers, St.-Sgts. Benny Avraham, Omar Suwayeed, and Adi Avitan, in an ambush in the Mount Dov region in October 2000.

The IDF earlier this year declared the three soldiers dead and their place of burial unknown on the basis of what was described as reliable information. Tannenbaum, however, is presumed alive.

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

"We have also been informed that a petition is in the process of being signed by members of both houses in the US which, when completed, will be sent to Syrian President Bashar Assad calling on him to facilitate the release of the hostages and their return to Israel," Tannenbaum said.

Syria is seen as the controlling power in Lebanon and thus has more than a little influence over Hizbullah.

"In the global war on terrorism after the terrible events of September 11, American leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the many faces and forms of terrorism and those countries which give it succour, either directly or indirectly," Tannenbaum said.

"Kidnapping and holding someone against their will is another form of terrorism, especially when the kidnappers, in this case Hizbullah, consistenly refuse to grant access to the hostages on the most basic of humanitarian grounds."

Special prayers were said in synagogues here and abroad over Yom Kippur for the release and return of all MIAs and hostages.

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