PARIS (Dec. 30)
A French journalist said he spoke with seven Israeli prisoners of war in Syria and found them in good health and well treated. Pierre Demeron described his meeting with the prisoners in an article in this week’s edition of “Paris Match” to go on sale Monday. All seven prisoners are shown in photographs in the article.
“They are not allowed to communicate among themselves, but from all signs they appeared in good health,” Demeron wrote. He added that he had the impression the prisoners were not assembled in camps but scattered in small groups throughout Damascus in military locals. The French journalist said he spoke with Yoram Sharar, Gagy Ouerson and Ury Chakhat and four other prisoners. He said Syrian authorities would not let him visit other Israeli prisoners.
He talked with Sharar over a cup of Turkish coffee. Sharar was shot down during a raid over Damascus. He told Demeron he passed the hours doing math and drawing sketches of his wife, Edna, describing fervently her “beautiful dark eyes and tiny nose.” The magazine carried a photograph of Sharar holding a drawing of his wife with a message to her in Hebrew inscribed on it. Captain Sharar sent kisses to his little 2-year-old son, Arnoun.
Demeron visited Ouerson in the Mezze Hospital where he is receiving treatment for a leg wound, Ouerson is a captain in the Israeli Air Force and was shot down in his Sky hawk. The nurses attending Capt. Ouerson told the French journalist that last Nov. 20 the Israeli captain celebrated his birthday with his doctor, Henri Zaza, in the hospital.
Demeron had a third visit with Chakhat, a Phantom pilot. Chakhat, a jovial redhead, told him, “I’ve shaved my mustache and feel like a little boy again. My wife is not going to recognize me.” Demeron also met with Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Mustapha Tlass who told him the Israeli POW problem must be settled “when the hostilities have’ ended and not before, Why should we let Israeli pilots go home? So they can turn around and drop fragmentation bombs…on Damascus and kill women and children?”
In Paris, Demeron is considered by many observers to be militant in pro-Arab pressure groups. A leader of the French Friendship with Arab Nations group. he also heads the French edition of the Damascus propaganda magazine “Flash,” He has already made reports in Syria and Iraq on what he called the good treatment of Jews in these countries.