PARIS (Sep. 5)
The six prominent Lebanese Jews kidnapped in recent months are alive and in the hands of the Hetzbollah, the extremist pro-Iranian Shiite faction, according to a senior Lebanese government official.
President Amin Gemayel’s Chief of Protocol, Marun Haimari, said in a cable to Paris on Wednesday that the six Jewish hostages were alive. Haimari advised the president of the Representative Council of French Jews (CRIF), Theo Klein, to intercede on their behalf through the Syrian and Libyan governments. Haimari also mentioned Lebanese Education Minister Selim Hoss and Hetzbollah leader Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah as possible contacts.
Klein has repeatedly cabled and written Gemayel and other Lebanese leaders to try and obtain the liberation of the six, or at least to ascertain their fate. Wednesday’s cable is the first formal acknowledgement that the six are alive.
THE MISSING SIX
The missing six are:
* Elie Hallack, 55, vice president of the Central Committee of the Lebanese Jewish community. A respected doctor, he was kidnapped from his home at 3 a.m. on March 30, 1985.
* Elie Srour, 50, was kidnapped on that same day at 7 p.m. outside his electrical equipment store in central Beirut. He was in charge of the community’s funeral arrangements.
* Haim Cohen, 50, a businessman was also kidnapped on March 30, at 7:30 a.m. from his home.
* Isac Sasson, 65, president of the Lebanese Jewish community. He was kidnapped by an armed gang on March 31 while on his way from Beirut International Airport to the center of the city. Eye-witnesses said that Sasson, a prominent business executive, was accompanied by an armed military escort which offered no resistance to the kidnappers.
* Isaac Tallab, a bachelor, was kidnapped sometime in July 1985. He was a teacher at the French high school.
* Selim Jamous, the Jewish community’s former Secretary General, has been missing since August 1984. He was kidnapped from his office in the community building in Beirut and his family had had no confirmation since that he is alive.
ANOTHER KIDNAP VICTIM IS JEWISH
Of the four Frenchmen kidnapped earlier this year in Beirut, one is a Jew: Jean Paul Kauffmann, 43. A reporter, he was kidnapped while on his way from the airport to the air terminal in Central Beirut. He is believed to be in the hands of the Hetzbollah who have promised to release him after Israel frees the last Shiite prisoners still held at Atlit prison.
Israeli Premier Shimon Peres said this week that the last prisoners will be set free within a week or 10 days at the utmost. The fate of the six missing Lebanese Jews is not linked to the release of the Shiite prisoners in Israel.