Mr. WEINER. Mr. Speaker - on June 11, 1982, during a battle with Syrian and Palestinians forces on the Israeli-Lebanese border, five
Israeli soldiers were captured by Syrian forces. Several years later,
two of the captured soldiers were returned to Israel in prisoner
exchanges with Syria. But today, twenty years later, we still know
nothing of three of these soldiers, Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, and
One of these soldiers, Zachary Baumel, is a U.S. citizen, and a
former resident of my congressional district.
On a number of occasions, I have met with Zachary's parents, and
listened to them tell me of the years of effort to gain any information
about their son. For the most part, this has been a fruitless quest.
But the greatest injustice is not that they have been unable to
discover any information about the well-being of their son. The
greatest injustice is that there are those out there who know where
Zachary is, and yet, they refuse to share this information.
Mr. Speaker, the United States must not permit those who know the
whereabouts of Zachary Baumel to keep this information to themselves.
In 1993, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat delivered one-half of Zachary
Baumel's dog tag to Israeli Government. Clearly he has a connection to
those who are holding him, yet he has done nothing to assist in
bringing Zach home.
Mr. Speaker, we must increase the pressure on Syria, Iran and the
Palestinian Authority and any other nation that has information
regarding these prisoners. That is why I, along with the Gentleman from
California, Mr. Lantos, have led a coalition of members in sending a
letter, which I will submit for publication in the Congressional
Record, to the Secretary of State, urging him to raise this matter with
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara when he comes to Washington later
Mr. Speaker, this nightmare has lasted long enough, it's time to
bring Zachary Baumel and all of the other missing Israeli soldiers
Congress of the United States,
Secretary Colin L. Powell,
June 7, 2002.
U.S. Department of State,
Dear Secretary Powell: Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara
is scheduled to meet with you in Washington, D.C. this week.
You may be aware that his visit will coincide with the 20th
anniversary of the capture of American citizen and Israeli
soldier Zachary Baumel who, along with four other Israeli
soldiers, was taken captive on June 11, 1982 during battles
with Syrian forces near the Lebanese village of Sultan
Ya'akub. We urge you to take advantage of the concurrence of
these events to reinvigorate efforts to obtain information
regarding the whereabouts of these and other missing Israeli
soldiers, and to secure their release.
Since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, more
than four hundred Israeli soldiers have been declared
``Missing in Action'' (MIA). Only six of these cases are
officially listed as ``soldiers missing but presumed to be
alive.'' Three of the soldiers: Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman
and Yehuda Katz were captured in 1982. The fourth, Ron Arad,
was captured in 1986. Recently, two more names were added to
the list of the missing; on August 17, 1997, Guy Hever went
missing from his army base in the Golan; on October 15, 2000,
Hizbullah announced that another Israeli citizen, 54 year-old
Elchanan Tannenbaum (Col. res.), had also been taken captive.
As you are no doubt aware, Public Law 106-89, authored by
Congressman Lantos of California, directs the Department of
State to raise the issue of missing Israeli soldiers with
officials of Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and
other governments in the Middle East. It specifies that US
aid to these governments should take into consideration their
willingness to assist in locating and securing the return of
these soldiers. It also directs the Department of State to
report to Congress on these efforts. We hope that you will
use the occasion of your meeting with Foreign Minister Shara
to further the goals of Public Law 106-89.
If the Syrian government is to become a responsible member
of the international community, it must take all necessary
measures to provide the fullest possible accounting for
Zachary Baumel and all other Israeli hostages held under
Syrian control. We urge you to convey this message to the
Syrian Foreign Minister and to redouble your efforts to
secure the long overdue release of these soldiers.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your
Anthony D. Weiner; Tom Lantos, Benjamin A. Gilman; Henry
A. Waxman; Janice D. Schakowsky; Eliot L. Engel;
Carolyn B. Maloney; Nita M. Lowey; Gary L. Ackerman;
Shelley Berkley; Jerrold Nadler; Robert Wexler; Barney
Frank; Eric Cantor; James R. Langevin; Peter Deutsch;
Howard L. Berman; Steve Israel; Tammy Baldwin; Joseph
Crowley; Adam B. Schiff; Benjamin L. Cardin; Jim