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Copyright 1994 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post

June 10, 1994


BYLINE: David Rudge

Families of missing servicemen and activists pressing for their return are seeking permission from the Israeli, Syrian and Lebanese authorities to enter Lebanon.

They intend to visit the Good Fence border crossing near Metulla on Sunday in the hope that from there they will be allowed to cross into Lebanon to seek information about the MIA's.

"We are prepared to take any risk even if it means endangering ourselves. After 12 years without our son, without knowing whether he's alive or dead, our own lives are worth very little," said Pnina Feldman, mother of Zvi Feldman.

"We want to know the truth, for better or for worse, and for that we are prepared to do whatever if necessary," she added.

Joel Leyden, co-chairperson of the International Coalition for Missing Israeli Soldiers, said the voluntary organization which has offices in North America as well as Israel, had made contact with the Syrian and Lebanese governments and was awaiting a response to their request.

He said the association had information, believed to be reliable, that at least two out of the four servicemen missing in Lebanon were alive. He declined to give any further details.

He was referring to IAF navigator Ron Arad and the three soldiers missing from the Sultan Yakoub battle on June 12, 1982 - Yehuda Katz, Zaharia Baumel and Zvi Feldman.

Two other MIA's, Yosef Fink and Rahamim Alsheikh, who were captured by Hizbullah in February 1986, have been confirmed as being dead, although their bodies have not yet been returned to Israel.

Leyden said the group also intended to contact UNIFIL and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and hoped the UN would provide them with an escort if they were granted permission to cross into Lebanon.

"At the very least we intend to stage a ceremony at the Good Fence crossing, to mark the 12th anniversary since the three soldiers from Sultan Yakoub went missing, and Arkia airlines has very kindly offered to fly representatives of the group and the families to the north," said Leyden.

Leyden said the families were ready to take nearly any measures to try to obtain concrete evidence about the fate of their missing boys - and were willing to sign documents absolving the government of any responsibility for them if they were allowed to enter Lebanon.

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