JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
Premier Menachem Begin met today with the two POWs, Air Force pilot Aharon Achiaz, who was held prisoner by PLO forces after he bailed out of his plane which crashed near the PLO stronghold at Beaufort Castle in the early days of the way in Lebanon, and Ron Harush, who was kidnapped in Beirut last week and held prisoner for three days. Both men were released under the evacuation agreement worked out by U.S. special envoy Philip Hobib.
The returning POWs thanked Begin for the government’s efforts to release them and said they had been fearful, during their imprisonment, that the terrorists might smuggle them out of Lebanon.
Begin told Achiaz and Harush that the terrorists tried to get Israel to release terrorists from prisons in Israel in return for releasing the two Israelis. However, the Premier said, “we are determined not to give in, and we told them there would be no evacuation before you were released.” The Israel Cabinet approved the evacuation agreement only after it received assurances that the terrorists would release Achiaz and Harush.