As far back as the Munich Olympics of 1972, Palestinian terrorists and their supporters have used kidnapping as a political tool, abducting Israeli civilians and soldiers to be used in potential prisoner swaps and to obtain other concessions from Israel. Following is a chronology of prominent Israeli kidnappings and MIA cases:
1972: Members of the Black September terrorist group sneak into the Olympic Village in Munich and take 11 members of the Israeli delegation hostage. All 11 are killed.
1979: An Israeli soldier who was captured the previous year when he accidentally entered an area of southern Lebanon controlled by the PLO is exchanged for 76 terrorists.
1982: Three Israeli soldiers disappear in the Battle of Sultan Yakoub at the start of the War in Lebanon. Despite decades of rumors about their fate and alleged behind-the-scenes negotiations, Zvi Feldman, Zachary Baumel and Yehuda Katz are still considered missing in action.
1985: Israel trades 1,150 Palestinian prisoners for three soldiers captured in Lebanon and held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
1986: Ron Arad, a navigator in the Israeli air force, is shot down over Lebanon and captured. Frequent reports – but no definitive evidence that he is still alive – about his subsequent fate surface. He is believed in the hands of the Lebanese Shi’ite organization Amal.
1989: Hamas kidnaps and murders two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa’adon
1994: Nachshon Wachsman, an Israeli soldier, is kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. He is killed during an unsuccessful IDF rescue mission.
1992: A hitchhiking Israeli soldier is kidnapped and murdered by members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam squad.
1996: Hamas kidnaps and murders a hitchhiking Israeli soldier, Sharon Edri.
2001: A 16-year-old high school student is lured to the Ramallah area by a woman in Fatah, who had met the Israeli on the Internet and lured him to the West Bank. The teen is kidnapped and killed. Two Tel Aviv restaurant owners are abducted and killed near Tulkarem, a West Bank city under Israeli control.
2002: Israel reveals a Hezbollah plot to kidnap Israelis in Europe or at the Lebanese border.
Two Israeli reservists accidentally drive into Ramallah, where they are captured and lynched. A camera crew captures images of the murderers holding up bloody hands.
2002: Hezbollah gunmen kidnap three Israeli soldiers, Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Souad from the area on the Lebanese border known as Shabaa Farms. The IDF determines that the three soldiers were killed during or immediately after their abduction.
2002: Elhanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli businessman is taken hostage under mysterious circumstances – either in Europe or the Middle East – by Hezbollah. He is part of an exchange in 2004, along with the bodies of three Israeli soldiers, for 435 Arab prisoners.
2004: Hamas announces it will seize Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinians in Israeli jails.
2005: A Hamas cell in Ramallah kidnaps and murders Sasson Nuriel, a worker in a West Bank candy factory.
June 2006: Benjamin Bright-Fishbein, a Brown University student, is kidnapped by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade while visiting Nablus, a major West Bank city. He is released with the intervention of the Palestinian Authority. Visiting Nablus alone “was a mistake – a really big mistake,” Bright-Fishbein says.