TEL AVIV (Nov. 11)
There now appears to be little substance to claims made last weekend by the Abu Nidal terrorist group that it had seized an “Israeli yacht” off the coast of the Gaza Strip and captured eight “Israeli passengers holding dual nationality.”
Belgian authorities have confirmed that five of the passengers are Belgian citizens residing in France who are Catholic, not Jewish. They were identified as Emmanuel Houtekins, 42; his wife, Godelieve Kets; their children, Laurent, 17, and Valerie, 16; and Emmanuel’s brother, Fernand, 40.
The French government is reportedly trying to obtain information as to the fate of Fernand’s girlfriend, Jacqueline Valente, 29, and her two children, Marie-Laure, 6, and Virginie, 4. Valentie’s mother, Brigitte, has denied in France that her daughter is Jewish.
Meanwhile, Israeli naval sources say the yacht may have been seized many miles — possibly 100 or more — from the Israeli coast, perhaps as far away as Libya.
The International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva has announced that it has heard nothing about the incident and has received no word from the terrorist group, despite a promise the group made Sunday at a news conference in Beirut.