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Copyright 1993 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post

October 25, 1993


BYLINE: Liat Collins

Friends of the three soldiers missing in action from the Sultan Yakoub battle in the 1982 Lebanon War hold their vigil outside the Prime Minister's Office.

SILENTLY holding banners reading "Bring our friends back," some 40 comrades of the three soldiers missing in action since the Lebanon War battle of Sultan Yakoub in 1982 gathered outside the Prime Minister's Office yesterday as the cabinet was meeting inside.

"It's not a protest, and certainly not a demonstration," said Avi Rath, one of the organizers. "It's a vigil - an apolitical gathering by their friends and comrades who haven't forgotten them.

"Over the years, we have moved on and built our lives, gotten married and had children, but they have remained in the same place," he said.

Although the tank battalion in which Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman, and Yehuda Katz served has since been disbanded, their comrades remain in touch with their families and push for information on their fate.

"All this time, we have been told there is no information because we don't have relations with the Arab countries. Now we have relations with the PLO, so why wasn't information on the MIAs made a precondition before [Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin flew off to shake hands with [PLO chairman Yasser] Arafat?" said Rath.

The vigil was hastily planned over the weekend after news broke about today's planned release of Palestinian prisoners.

Apart from the right of the families to know what happened to their sons, all soldiers need to know that the country is behind them, Rath said. "We were raised on the belief that you didn't leave a soldier on the battlefield. But what has happened during these 11 years? It's bad for morale."

Although the vigil was arranged by the comrades-in-arms of the missing tankers, the placards also mentioned IAF navigator Ron Arad.

Meanwhile, the Hadassah World Organization yesterday released a seven-minute video cassette containing a plea for information for the families of all the missing. The video is aimed at raising awareness about the subject, particularly in the US.

"What do you mothers feel like when your child suddenly disappears for an hour or two or half a day? My son didn't go missing for hours. He has been missing from his home for years, and I don't know anything at all about his fate," says the mother of Zvi Feldman on the video.

The video was made by the studios at Hadassah Technological College and is being distributed to hundreds of thousands of Hadassah members in the US.

At the request of the Baumel family, the video will also be distributed to other Jewish organizations abroad, including student groups.

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