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Copyright 1991 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post

March 14, 1991


BYLINE: Bradley Burston

As Secretary of State Baker and Syrian officials began talks in Damascus yesterday, parents of Israeli soldiers held captive in Lebanon disclosed that they had recently received evidence that their sons were still alive.

Yona Baumel, father of Zacharia Baumel, captured in June, 1982, said that some of the missing soldiers' families had received word a month ago.

The information came from "private channels unavailable to the IDF and the government," Baumel said in a broadcast interview.

Yosef Katz, father of Yehuda Katz, captured on the sixth day of the war, revealed that he had received messages from three separate sources regarding his son.

Zacharia Baumel disappeared in the first week of Operation Peace for Galilee. He was a member of a tank crew with Zvika Feldman, Hezi Shai and Ariel Liberman.

Held by the Ahmed Jibril terror organization, Shai and two other IDF soldiers, Yossi Groff and Nissim Salem, were returned in a May, 1985 exchange for 1,500 Arab security prisoners. Liberman had been released the year before.

Baumel praised the efforts of Prime Minister Shamir and Defense Minister Moshe Arens on behalf of the prisoners. "After 8 years, I cannot be totally satisfied, but the government's efforts have been over and above those that any other country would have made."

Katz, Baumel and other members of the missing soldiers' families met with State Department officials to discuss U.S. efforts to mediate the captives' release.

The other soldiers still missing are Samir Assad, who disappeared near Sidon in April, 1983, and is believed held by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine; Rahamim Alsheikh and Yossi Fink, by Hizbullah in February 1986; and IAF navigator Ron Arad, shot down eight months later.

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