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5 WZO Emissaries, Two Local WZO Employees Arrested in Argentina

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Israeli authorities are making efforts to secure the release of five World Zionist Organization emissaries (shlichim) who were arrested in Cordoba, Argentina over the weekend. They are Mr. and Mrs. Yitzhak Estrugo of Kibbutz Bahan; Mr. and Mrs. Yosef Pick, of Tel Aviv; and Amnon Rudin, of Jerusalem, a son of an Israeli police official. Two local employees of the WZO, also arrested, have not been identified here.

According to information received here, the Estrugos were arrested Thursday morning and the others 24 hours later. Just prior to the arrests the emissaries had participated in a seminar organized by a local youth movement, “El Committee,” which is affiliated with the Labor Zionist kibbutz movement in Israel, Ihud Hakvutzot VeHakibutzim.

The reasons for the arrests are unknown but may be connected with “El Committee” which the Buenos Aires authorities regard as leftist and opposed to the Argentine regime. There is special concern for the Estrugos who hold Argentinian as well as Israeli citizenship and reportedly were detained by the army while the others are being held by police.

CONVINCED ARRESTS ARE A MISTAKE

Mordechai Bar On, director general of the WZO’s youth and chalutz department which is responsible for the emissaries, said he was convinced that the arrests were a mistake because none of the detainees was involved in political activity that could be interpreted as hostile to Argentina. He was hopeful that they would be released once the misunderstanding was recognized.

Pick is the only one of the five who is a permanent resident of Cordoba serving as a shaliach to the local Jewish community. The others were in that city only for the Zionist seminar. Sources here said the five were involved only in Zionist and Jewish educational activities and were not members of any leftist political bodies. “On the contrary, they are politically oriented to Labor or to the right of it.” a WZO source said. The source also noted that “The Argentine authorities do not detain persons involved in Zionist and Jewish activities which are entirely legal there.”

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