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Families of 3 Missing Israelis Deny Rumors Syria Has Bodies

August 5, 1996
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The families of three Israeli soldiers who have been missing for 14 years have said they had not received any new information about their loved ones.

The families met last week with the head of the Israel Defense Force manpower division after Palestinian sources claimed that the soldiers — Zechariah Baumel, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz — were buried in a cemetery in Syria.

The three soldiers were declared missing after they were taken prisoner during the 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee.

Their families have since launched an international effort to obtain information regarding their whereabouts.

Israel Radio last week quoted a senior Palestinian security source as saying that Palestinian security officials had passed information on to Israel one year ago that the three were buried in Syria.

The source said Israel had asked the United States to intervene on its behalf with Syria for the return of the bodies, but that the contacts were disrupted by Operation Grapes of Wrath, Israel’s air and artillery bombardment in April of Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.

In light of the reports, the families of the soldiers were summoned to meet Aug. 1 with the IDF manpower head, Maj. Gen. Gideon Sheffer, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.

But they emerged from the meeting saying that no new information had been disclosed or confirmed.

Zechariah Baumel’s father, Yona, said he believed that the purpose of the meeting was to dispel the media rumors.

“We were wondering why we were called from Jerusalem in a big hurry to come down here,” Baumel said. “He told us to beware of rumors, that much he did.”

His wife, Miriam, said the family would continue efforts to obtain information about their son’s fate.

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