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Copyright 1995 The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post

July 5, 1995



A Jordanian journalist who spoke to an Israeli soldier after he was declared missing in action in Lebanon in 1982 said yesterday that the PLO now had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the Israeli MIAs.

Haroun Mahamid, head of Jordanian TV's Hebrew section, was speaking yesterday at a news conference in Jerusalem called by the Coalition for the Missing Israeli Soldiers.

Mahamid said that he had been sent to film the Israeli prisoners from the Battle of Sultan Ya'acoub, "at the end of 1982 or beginning of 1983," when they were being held in Lebanon. He was taken there by Abu Jihad with whom he remained in touch until 1986, Mahamid said.

During all this time, the MIAs were in the hands of the PLO, he said. But later they were either killed, as one report said, or handed over to a pro-Syrian or pro-Iranian group.

Last week Mahamid met with Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini, who also checked with Yasser Arafat, but no one in the PLO could give any information about the missing boys, Mahamid said.

In Lebanon, Mahamid said, he had spoken to one of the MIAs, Zacharia Baumel, through a keyhole. "He was in very good health [at that time] ... He sent regards to his family and asked the Israeli government to do everything possible to secure the release of the prisoners," Mahamid said. "There were two or three other soldiers in the room with [Baumel] but I do not know their names."

The Jordanian journalist arrived here a week ago and was questioned on Sunday at the Hadera police station. He said at the news conference yesterday that he had been interrogated by a GSS agent who tried to get him to suppress information which he had planned to publicize.

Miriam Baumel, Zacharia's mother, yesterday called for the state comptroller to investigate why the authorities have not been able - for 13 years - to establish whether the MIAs are alive or dead.

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