Copyright 1995 The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post
June 6, 1995
HEADLINE: RED CROSS WON'T BARGAIN FOR ISRAELI MIAS
BYLINE: BATSHEVA TSUR
The International Committee of the Red Cross would refuse to bargain for Israeli prisoners of war, dead or alive, in contacts with the Lebanese because this contradicts accepted international procedure, ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga said yesterday.
Sommaruga was speaking after a three-hour meeting with family members of Israeli MIAs, some of whom also met with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl yesterday during a flurry of diplomatic activity on the MIAs.
During the meeting with Sommaruga , Yona Baumel passed on new information "recently received from a certain area in Lebanon" about his son, Zacharia, and the other Sultan Ya'acoub MiAs in the hope that the Red Cross could verify it. Baumel said that this information contradicts the claims by PA Chairman Yasser Arafat that all the soldiers are dead.
Baumel is due to meet with senior Israeli military sources today to discuss the information, which he says was obtained through private channels.
Sommaruga told Tami Arad, wife of missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad, that he has a watch on which are engraved the names of his six children, "but when I look at it I remember my seventh, Ron Arad."
Sommaruga, here as a guest of the Israel Council for Foreign Relations and the UN Association in Israel, said: "We will do what we can to help the families, but there are great difficulties in this part of the world, especially with the different factions in Lebanon."
Sommaruga held out some hope for some. The Red Cross head promised to intervene with Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin who is jailed in Israel, in an effort to have the body of Ilan Sa'adon, kidnapped and murdered inside Israel, returned, Israel Radio reported.
Other parents were reportedly very critical of the international body's steps until now.
Last night Sommaruga reiterated his "compassion for the millions of victims of the Shoah ... and the other millions who perished in World War II. Our failure to speak out at that time was a moral defeat."
Kohl, who also met with Arad's family, reportedly said that German investigations into Arad's whereabouts had not revealed anything new. Germany had tried to get information on Arad's whereabouts at Israel's request.
Members of other MIA families said they were waiting to hear whether the chancellor would meet with them during his visit.
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