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Copyright 1994
Associated Press

January 06, 1994

HEADLINE: U.S. Delegation Meets Families of Israeli MIAs


A U.S. congressional delegation investigating the whereabouts of six Israeli servicemen that went missing after Israel's invasion of Lebanon met with their families Thursday.

''They all have important stories to tell. We received a lot of information,'' said Michael Van Dusen, chief of staff of the House foreign affairs committee. ''We will be exploring to maximum extent possible all six cases.''

The three-person delegation will go on Friday to Damascus, where they will try to resolve the case of three Israeli soldiers who disappeared in 1982 during a ferocious tank battle against Syrian forces during the invasion.

Sgt. Zachary Baumel, Sgt. Zvi Feldman and Cpl. Yehuda Katz were believed captured and later paraded in Damascus. The PLO recently gave Baumel's family half of his identification tag.

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.

Syria is allowing the committee to enter the country and investigate the issue as a gesture toward President Clinton ahead of the Jan. 16 summit he will hold in Geneva with Syrian President Hafez Assad.

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