TEL AVIV (Jul. 7)
Four Israeli tourists who had been kidnapped by Kashmiri rebels in northern India on June 26 returned home Friday to a joyous welcome here.
Three are still recovering from wounds sustained in the shootout, which resulted in the death of one Israeli and the capture of another, 22-year-old Yair Yitzhaki.
Yitzhaki was held hostage for a week by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, an extremist Moslem group seeking the separation of Kashmir province from India.
He was released to a U.N. representative July 3, following an appeal by U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar. But he waited for his compatriots to be discharged from a Bombay hospital before flying home.
Yitzhaki’s parents, 11 brothers and sisters, who are Orthodox Jews from the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, came to Ben-Gurion Airport with hundreds of neighbors and well-wishers.
They insist his safe return was a divine act in response to their prayers at the Western Wall and the prayerful intervention of prominent rabbinical authorities.
The four men belonged to a party of seven Israelis and a Dutch woman vacationing in Kashmir when they were kidnapped off a houseboat on Lake Dal near Srinagar, the provincial capital.