Copyright 2003 Jerusalem Post
HEADLINE: Don't forget our sons - call by father of missing soldier
BYLINE: DAVID RUDGE
An emotional plea not to forget the three IDF soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah in the Mount Dov region just over three years ago was made on Wednesday by the father of one of the MIA's.
Haim Avraham, father of St.-Sgt. Benny Avraham, said the fate of his son and the other missing soldiers St.-Sgts. Omar Suwayeed and Adi Avitan had been overshadowed by revelations over the circumstances of the abduction of businessman and retired Lt.-Col. Elhanan Tannenbaum and the case of missing IAF navigator Lt.-Col. Ron Arad.
"There is a legitimate and very understandable struggle by the Arad family who want Ron back, but they have taken legal steps that could disturb the proposed exchange deal (with Hizbullah)," Avraham told the "Jerusalem Post."
"Then comes the issue of Tannebaum and the revelations that have cast a cloud over the circumstances of his kidnapping.
"Unfortunately, this could cause the public to reach a conclusion, even if it is based on information that is incorrect, that could also disrupt the planned exchange deal.
"Our sons fall between these two situations, which are causing difficulties in concluding the deal and bringing them home." Avraham stressed that despite details about the circumstances of Tannenbaum's abduction, the actual facts were not fully known.
"We also don't know for certain the fate of our boys even though they have been declared dead by the IDF. One or more might be alive and some could be dead," he said.
"What we do know is that Tannenbaum was taken because he is an Israeli, a retired Lt.-Col. and because Hizbullah, Iran, Syria and Lebanon have one aim - to try and hurt us.
"I also call on the government and the public not to forget that our boys were sent by the State on a mission as part of their army service to defend the northern border and they are missing in action.
"The State and the people of Israel have a moral duty to ensure that they are brought home and this should be at the very top of the agenda of the decision-makers, especially after all we, the families, have suffered over the past three years," said Avraham.
Yoske Harari, head of the Fellowship for Ron Arad's Release, said that members of te association and the family did not wish to react to the Supreme Court's decision to allow publication of the circumstances over the kidnapping of Tannenbaum.
"Tannenbaum is not the issue as far as we are concerned. As citizens of the State, we would be only too happy to see him and the Mount Dov MIA's returned to Israel as soon as possible," Harari told the "Post."
"The issue, as far as we are concerned, is ensuring that Ron or at least information about his fate is part of any deal and that without this there should be no release of Mustafa Dirani.
"The circumstances regarding Tannenbaum's abduction are moral questions that are a matter of public interest, but ultimately it is an issue for the government to decide upon.
"It is a fact that he was not sent on a mission by the State. It is also a fact that the State has to fulfil its obligations to those it did send - meaning the three missing soldiers from (the 1982) Sultan Yacoub battle (Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz), the MIA's from Mount Dov and, of course, Ron Arad.
"Our issue is that Dirani should not be included in any (proposed) exchange deal without Ron. Dirani was not taken as a bargaining chip, but to prove that Ron was handed over to Iran in return for money.
"Dirani has Ron's blood on his hands and as I told the 20,000 people who attended the rally last week (in Tel Aviv) to mark the 17th anniversary of Ron's capture, I believe he should be tried for crimes against humanity, even if Ron is eventually released and returned.
"Dirani kept Ron in the trunk of is car and drove all over the place before selling him to the Iranians, via Hizbullah. If it is imperative to release Dirani, then Israel should bring (Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan) Nasrallah here beforehand because he knows Ron's whereabouts and can secure his release with one phone call," said Harari.
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