WASHINGTON (May. 19)
Sixty members of the House have sent a letter to Syrian Ambassador Rafic Jouejati, asking that his government reveal the whereabouts of a 22-year-old Brooklyn-born Israeli soldier who has been missing since last June II.
A spokesman for Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-L, N.Y.) who originated the letter said that the family of Zachary Baumel believes that he and the four other members of his tank crew were captured by either the Syrians or the PLO in Lebanon.
He was last seen on TV being paraded through the streets of Damascus. Neither the International Committee of the Red Cross nor the State Department have been successful in obtaining any information about Baumel, according to the spokesman.
Ackerman became interested in the case after the soldier’s mother, Miriam Baumel, visited the U.S. in an effort to seek help in learning the whereabouts of her son. “Nearly a year ago, a 22-year-old American was captured by the Syrian forces, yet they haven’t had the decency to acknowledge his capture, or even say whether he is dead or alive,” Ackerman said.
“I exhort the Syrian government to uphold the Geneva conventions which serve as a basic cods of behavior for all people everywhere.” Copies of the letter were also sent to Syrian President Hafez Assad and Secretary of State George Shultz.