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Copyright 1993
Associated Press

December 01, 1993

HEADLINE: PLO Gives Israel Information on Serviceman Missing Since 1982


The PLO has given Israel information on a serviceman missing in the 1982 Lebanon war, officials said Wednesday.

The army identification tag of Zachary Baumel were brought to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Europe from Tunisia by his special envoy Jacques Neriah, Rabin told reporters in Brussels.

Rabin has been under pressure at home to use Palestinian prisoners as bargaining chips to win information on six Israeli soldiers missing in Lebanon. On Monday he linked any prisoner releases with information on the MIA's.

The dog tag was the first concrete information publicly revealed on three soldiers; Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman, who disappeared 11 years ago during a ferocious tank battle Lebanon.

''I see in this act a positive humanitarian act on the part of the PLO,'' Rabin said.

Rabin telephoned Baumel's father, Yona, in Israel and told him he had received the military identification tag and was forwarding it to Israel.

Yona Baumel said he already knew of the disk's existence at the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization's headquarters in Tunisia.

”We are very interested in getting information that will bring us to the boys,'' he said on Israel radio.

He refused to say if Rabin gave him more information, but said he believed the PLO had more knowledge of the fate of the missing servicemen.

''Those who will profit the most from their humanitarian acts are the Palestinians themselves,'' Yona Baumel said.

Army radio said it was only a half a disk. Israeli army disks are snapped in half when a soldier dies, but in this case it is not known whether Baumel is dead or alive.

Of the other three missing soldiers, Israel is reasonably certain that one, air navigator Ron Arad, is alive and in Iranian hands. Arad was shot down during a 1986 bombing mission in Lebanon.

Israel was informed two years ago during negotiations for the release of Western hostages held in Lebanon, that two other missing men, Yosef Fink and Rahamim Alsheikh, captured in 1986, had died. But their bodies were never recovered.

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