NEW YORK (Dec. 19)
The mother, wife and father of three Israeli soldiers captured by Syria during the Yom Kippur War are continuing their appeal for American support in their demand that Syria publish a list of the estimated 102 POWs and permit the International Red Cross to visit them. During a press conference at the Israeli Consulate here the three said that United Nations Assistant Secretary General Roberto Guyer, with whom they met last Friday, had assured them that he viewed the POW issue with “utmost concern” and was cooperating with the IRC in this matter.
The three Israelis–the mother, identified only as Ruth; the wife, 21, who is expecting a baby in three months, identified as Taly; and the father, identified only as David–said that during their meeting with Gyer they urged UN action to compel Syria to release the names of all the POWs, provide the IRC with facilities to visit the prisoners, and to bring about their release.
The trio, who arrived last week in the U.S. representing the families whose relatives are in Syrian hands, said they found understanding and sympathy among Congressmen whom they met in Washington and among religious and community leaders with whom they discussed the plight of the POWs. David said that a list of the POWs’ names was a form of “life insurance” for the prisoners because “without a list anything can happen.” Ambassador David Rivlin, Israel’s Consul General, told the press conference that Syria’s attitude is “a flagrant violation of any decent behavior” and accused the Syrians of “cruel and inhuman behavior.”
The three Israelis also told a special convocation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at 515 Park Av. that the IRC had met twice with Syrian officials requesting permission to visit the POW camps only to be rebuffed both times. “We ask only that Syria abide by the provisions of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war,” the three said.
They also noted that Premier Golda Meir had agreed to Syrian demands for the release of approximately 360 Syrian POWs held by Israel, the repatriation of 15,000 Syrian civilians to the Golan territories captured by Israel during the Yom Kippur War, and the return of two strong-holds on Mount Herman in Syrian territory taken by Israel. When Israel agreed to meet all these conditions, the three Israelis said, Syria reneged on the offer.
Last month, Israel submitted documentation to the International Red Cross of murder and mutilation committed against Israeli POWs by Syria. According to the Israeli complaint, the bodies of 28 Israeli soldiers, who had been taken by the Syrians, were discovered by the Israeli forces after recapturing territories on the Golan Heights. All had been executed blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs. The two parents of the Israeli POWs said their sons were identified from photographs taken on Oct. 15 by German and Dutch cameramen as among a group of 32 POWs publicly exhibited by the Syrians.