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Copyright 2004 Jerusalem Post
January 28

HEADLINE: Katsav: I haven't forgotten other MIAs


Beit Hanassi, President Moshe Katsav's official residence, has dismissed charges made in an open letter to Gila Katsav, the wife of the president, published on the front page of Wednesday's The Jerusalem Post, that the president ignores the plight of certain MIAs.

In the letter, Miriam Baumel, the mother of Zachary Baumel who, together with Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, has been missing in action since the battle of Sultan Yakub in June 1982, charged that Katsav neglects to mention her son and other MIAs when he meets foreign leaders and talks to the media.

Baumel asks Gila Katsav "mother to mother": "Would it not be painful [to you] to hear him [the president] mention other missing people in the media and meeting with other families of missing people while disregarding your son? What would you say when he refuses to discuss with you how to help your son and find some way to return him to his family?"

According to a statement released by Beit Hanassi in response to the letter, the president makes a point of raising the subject of captives and MIAs in all meetings that he has with foreign leaders in Israel and abroad.

Furthermore, the statement continues, the Baumel family has not applied for a meeting with the president. If an application was forthcoming, it would be treated favorably. The president may take the initiative and invite the Baumels for a meeting, the statement said.

In any case, his military aide Col. Shimon Hefetz has been in regular contact with the Baumel family for several years and continues to maintain the connection, Beit Hanassi said.

Rina Hever, the mother of Sgt. Guy Hever, who disappeared from the Golan Heights in 1997, told Israel Radio on Wednesday that the establishment demonstrates very little interest in her case. The only real encouragement she receives is from the Baumel, Feldman, and Katz families, who always include her son's name in their meetings with people of influence in Israel and abroad, she said. "Even though they have their own troubles, they never forget mine."

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