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Israelis Captured in Kashmir Return to a Joyous Welcome

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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.

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