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Copyright 2003 Jerusalem Post
June 18

HEADLINE: MIA's Father Claims Son Moved From Syria to Lebanon


Some 21 years after the battle at Sultan Yacoub in Lebanon, information received by Yona Baumel, the father of Zachary Baumel one of the three soldiers missing from the battle has indicated that his son might still be alive.

Baumel recently returned from abroad where he was in contact with a "very good source" who informed him that his son was transferred in the past few weeks from Damascus to Lebanon. "The information we received was that Zac was moved shortly before the recent visit of US Secretary of State Colin Powell to Damascus," Baumel told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "We have sources that are doubtful and good. I would rate this as very good. The consensus is that Zac was moved so that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad would not have to tell a bare-faced lie to Powell," he said.

Zachary, along with Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman, have been missing since 1982. The information received by Baumel has already been relayed to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. The latter replied that all the MIAs are regarded as alive until there is proof to the contrary.

Baumel met on Tuesday with Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz to mark the 21st anniversary of the battle and to press Sharon to demand the return of all of missing Israelis.

Daniel Grisaro, spokesman for the International Coalition for Missing Israeli Soldiers, said Sharon had promised in 1996 that he would do everything to ensure the return of all MIAs when he was in a position of power.

"Some 21 years after the Lebanon War and the battle of Sultan Yacoub, we expect the prime minister to rectify this historic tragedy and secure the release and return to their families of all the MIAs," Grisaro said.

Baumel said the families of the MIAs were at a loss to understand why Palestinians are being released without a demand for the return of the MIAs.

"Sharon promised us and we are disappointed that so many terrorists have been released and nothing has been asked as far as our MIAs are concerned," Baumel said.

Grisaro said they are urging Sharon and the government to press for the return of the missing soldiers from Sultan Yacoub and IAF navigator Ron Arad; St.-Sgts. Benny Avraham, Omar Suwayeed, and Adi Avitan (all of whom the IDF has declared dead) and Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum, who were kidnapped by Hizbullah; and Guy Hever.

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