December 14, 1986
HEADLINE: ISRAEL WOULD SWAP PRISONERS FOR MISSING SOLDIER, FATHER SAYS
DATELINE: TEL AVIV, Dec 14
Israel would be prepared to swap prisoners for a soldier, missing since the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, whose family believe he is being held by Syrian- backed Palestinian guerrillas, his father said today. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said last week Israel had hoped to gain the release of Israeli prisoners captured in Lebanon as part of the secret U.S.-arms-to-Iran deal. Six Israeli soldiers are officially listed as missing in Lebanon, three who disappeared in 1982 and three captured this year.
Yehuda Katz and two fellow soldiers, Zvi Feldman and Zecharia Baumel, were last seen on June 11, 1982 when their tank apparently fell into Syrian hands during the battle of Sultan Yakub. "Israeli Government figures have made clear they would be prepared to pay for a sign of life from Yehuda," his father, Joseph Katz, told Reuters.
His belief that his son is alive and a prisoner of Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) was strengthened last year when another Israeli soldier freed by the group said he heard his captors mention Katz's name on the day he was released. Joseph Katz said he is convinced that Jordanian Nezar Hindawi, jailed in London for trying to blow up an Israeli airliner, had referred to his son in a prison letter proposing that Syria should buy his release in exchange for two Israelis held by Jibril and two Britons held in Syria.