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redbut.gif (179 bytes) P.O.W. Chronology

Over the years, there has been a steady flow of information regarding Israel's missing soldiers. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the information, we have listed only the information that can be disclosed without compromising our sources.

redbut.gif (179 bytes) Official IDF History of Prisoner Exchanges
     (In Hebrew)

redbut.gif (179 bytes) Evidence,Indications, and Progress

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) June 1982

Israeli MIAs in Syrian Controlled Lebanon: On June 11, 1982, Israeli soldiers Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, and Yehuda Katz go missing in a battle with Syrian and Palestinian forces near the Lebanese village of Sultan Yaqub. Two other captured Israelis, Hezi Shai and Aryeh Lieberman, are later freed in prisoner exchanges in 1984 and 1985.

Israeli Soldiers Paraded in Damascus: Several hours after the battle, Time Magazine, AP, and La Stampa report three Israeli prisoners on display in a “victory march” in Damascus. The account was also reported by the Syrian media and western diplomats.

CBS Reports Damascus Parade: CBS television broadcast the “parade” of a captured Israeli tank and crew being paraded through the village of Ayta, near Damascus.

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) July 1982

Burial in Damascus: Three weeks after the battle, Palestinian military personnel and members of the Syrian secret police deliver four bodies to the Jewish cemetery in Damascus for burial. The Syrians claim that the bodies were those of the missing Israeli soldiers. (This claim is later refuted -see 1983)

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) August 1982

Interview Outside Damascus: CBS cameraman Ricky Romano is invited by PLO officer Abu Nidal to interview Israeli prisoners northeast of Damascus. Access denied by Ahmed Jibril’s Syrian sponsored PFLP-GC (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command), claiming that Abu Nidal has no authority “to show the prisoners.”

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) November 1982

PLO Officer: “We Have Israeli Prisoners” -- Allan Pizzey of NBC interviews Colonel Abu Ziad who claims that Palestinians are holding at least five more prisoners in addition to the six acknowledged.

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1983

East-West Security Council: “Baumel is Alive” -- John Mroz, head of East-West Security Council, learns from Palestinian sources that Baumel is alive.

French Dignitary: “Israeli MIAs are Alive” -- Mme. Mendes France tells the Katz and Feldman families that the Quai d'Orsay has information that the men are alive.

Damascus Graves Exhumed: On September 17th , the Red Cross exhumes the four bodies, which Syria had buried in the Damascus Jewish cemetery, claiming they are the Israeli MIAs. Only one body belongs to an Israeli soldier -- Zohar Lipschitz -- who was killed at the battle of Sultan Yaqub.

“We sent Israel the bones of dogs, and Israel may protest as much as it likes.” (Mustafa Tlass, Syrian Defense Minister, in an interview in Al- Majalla, London based Saudi weekly, August 4-10,1984)

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1984

Sultan Yaqub MIA Returns Alive: Israeli MIA Aryeh Lieberman, captured by Syrian troops in Sultan Yaqub, is freed and returns to Israel. Lieberman was in the same tank as Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, and Hezi Shai -- all of whom are missing in action at this time.

BBC: “Baumel is Alive” -- Stuart Young of BBC relays information that Baumel is alive.

Assad’s Brother: “There Are More Israeli Prisoners” -- Rifat Assad, brother of Syrian President Hafez Assad, is quoted in the Lebanese newspaper Monday Morning, that there are other Israeli prisoners of war.

Syrian Official: “More Israelis Held by Jibril” -- Mustafa Tlass, Syrian Defense Minister, tells Franz Joseph Strauss that there are three more Israeli prisoners in addition to the 3 being held by Ahmed Jibril’s Syrian sponsored PFLP-GC (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command).

Princess Dina Brings Wax Copy of Baumel Dogtag: Princess Dina of Jordan presents Israeli journalist Aharon Barnea with a newly made wax impression of Zachary Baumel's complete dog tag.

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1985

Second Sultan Yaqub MIA Returns Alive: Sultan Yaqub MIA Hezi Shai, originally presumed dead by Israeli authorities, is freed in a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC, headed by Ahmed Jibril). Shai was the commander of the tank carrying MIAs Feldman and Baumel. Aryeh Lieberman, the fourth crewman, was returned to Israel in a prisoner exchange in 1984.

Drug Dealer Saw Israeli POWs: Yona and Miriam Baumel (parents of MIA Zachary), and Ori Slonim (Israeli attorney and advisor to the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin), locate an Arab drug dealer in Denmark, who had served time in the Tadmor Prison in Syria. (Israelis had been secretly held in Tadmor Prison in the 1950's.) He claims he saw Israeli prisoners of war in Tadmor after the Lebanon War.

Jordanian TV: “Baumel Seen in Captivity” -- Jordanian TV Hebrew language news anchor, Haroun Machamid, announces on Jordanian television that Zachary Baumel is alive and is being held by Palestinians. When interviewed in Amman before U.S. consular officials, he described seeing Israeli captives in the Bekka Valley (winter 82-83). He said he was warned by Jordanian secret service to discuss only Baumel.

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1986

Captain Ron Arad Captured: On October 16th 1986, Israeli Air-Force navigator Ron Arad bails out of his damaged Phantom over Lebanon and is captured by Amal -- a Lebanese Shi’ite militia led By Nabih Berri, today the speaker of the Lebanese parliament.

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1987

Letter from Arad: Lebanese Shi’ite businessman, code-named the “Scout” by Israeli authorities, produces letters and a picture from Arad confirming that the missing airman is alive and in Amal hands. (Ha’aretz)

Yugoslav Ambassador: “Baumel is Alive” -- Ivan Tosevski ,Yugoslav Ambassador to Finland, and head of UN Working Committee on Enforced and Involunatry Disappearances, reports to Israeli ambassador Lador, that he knows Baumel is alive.

AP Bureau Chief: “Baumel is being held in Syria.” -- Louis Farres, AP Bureau Chief in Damascus, tells BBC reporter Gerald Butt that Baumel is alive and is being held in Syria.

Syrian Eyewitness: “I Saw Baumel Alive” -- A Syrian, working for Israeli intelligence, reports to Israel that Baumel is alive. The source is later executed by the Syrians. (Reported in “Missing Intelligence” by Steve Rodan, Jerusalem Post International Edition, June 25, 1994)

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1988

Amnesty International: “Reports of MIAs in Syrian Custody” -- The 1988 Amnesty International Report states (page 254): “Reports were received in mid -1987 suggesting that three Israeli soldiers who “disappeared" in 1982, following their capture after a battle in eastern Lebanon, were alive and in Syrian custody.”

East German Intelligence Sources: “Zachary Baumel is alive. “

Arad “Sold” to Iranians: Israel’s negotiations with Amal break off. Arad is “sold” to Iranian forces in Lebanon by Amal official Mustafa Dirani.

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1989

Proposed Exchange—Arad for Soviet Spies: Israeli attorney Amnon Zichroni representing Marcus Klingberg, a soviet agent apprehended by the Israelis, receives permission to negotiate an agreement in which East Germany and the Soviet Union would exchange Soviet spies Klingberg and Kalmanovitch for hard information regarding Arad. The deal falls through with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1990-1991

Episcopalian Clergyman Samir Habiby: “Israelis being held in Syria.”

Eastern Orthodox Clergyman Reports: Baumel and Feldman were moved from the Damascus area to the Beirut area.

Jibril on CNN: “Three Israeli soldiers are alive.”

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1992

Egyptian Sources: “Baumel is Alive.”

Confirmation of 1988 East German reports on Baumel.

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1993

Time Magazine Reporter Confirms Eyewitness Account: Time correspondent Dean Brelis confirms his eyewitness account of Israeli soldiers being paraded along with captured tanks, through Damascus shortly after the Battle of Sultan Yaqub. Deposition submitted to the Red Cross.

Russian Near East Expert Reports: Two Israeli soldiers are alive and being held in southern Lebanon.

Arafat Returns Half of Baumel’s Dogtag: Yasser Arafat delivers half of Baumel's dogtag to Jacques Nerieh, advisor to Prime Minister Rabin. Arafat promises that more information will be forthcoming. Nothing further is heard on the issue from Arafat.

Iranian Source: “Arad is Alive” -- Information placing Arad alive and in Tehran, is given high credibility rating by Israeli intelligence. (Ha’aretz)

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1994

US Congressional MIA Committee: Syria allows a U.S. Congressional Committee on Israeli MIAs to visit Lebanon and Syria to investigate. After discovering no new information on the MIAs the Committee requests to make a return visit to the region. The Syrians refuse.

Prime Minister Rabin: “Arafat Knows” -- “Rabin also told the Russian Premier that... Arafat had promised him more information about Israeli MIAs, but has not been forthcoming...fearing it would complicate his relations with Syria.” (Jerusalem Post April 26, 1994)

Jacques Chirac: “Assad Knows” – “I spoke to my friend, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, and he told me in no uncertain terms that only Assad knows what happened to the [Israeli] POWs.” (Jacques Chirac, Ma’ariv April 24, 1994)

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1995

Jordanian Journalist Confirms Eyewitness Account: At a Jerusalem press conference, Jordanian journalist Haroun Machamid gives details of his visit to the Bekka valley in 1983 where he claims he saw Zachary Baumel in captivity.

Congress Includes MIAs in MEPFA: (September) The U.S. Congress passes the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act (MEPFA). One of the clauses stipulates that the PLO must provide the United States with information regarding American nationals known to have been held at any time by the PLO or its factions, as a condition to receiving $500 million of American aid. U.S. Senator Jesse Helms states from the floor of the Senate that the only American national known to have been held by forces connected to the PLO is Israeli MIA and American citizen, Zachary Baumel.

Close Friend of Assad: “Baumel is Alive” -- Ibrahim Suliman, a Syrian-American close to Syrian President Hafez Assad, reports there is information in Damascus that Baumel and Arad are alive. (Channel 1 interview with Ehud Ya’ari)

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1997

Empty Graves in Damascus (again): U.S. government officials tell the Baumels that graves in Damascus reported to contain the remains of Israeli MIAs, had been exhumed. The "MIA graves," located with PLO information, were found to be empty. The graves contained the bones of animals.

Palestinian General: “ We Captured Living Soldiers” -- Palestinian General Abdul al Chai, tells Arab Knesset Members visiting Syria, that his forces captured live Israeli soldiers in Sultan Yaqub.

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1998

Sultan Yaqub Tanks in Moscow: Russian TV reports that the Syrians had shipped an Israeli tank to Moscow. After further investigation it was confirmed that the tank had been captured in the Battle of Sultan Yaqub. The tank is presently on display in a Russian military museum. (Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, Ma’ariv, Yediot Ahronot, May 19 – 22)

Palestinian Prisoner: “Live Prisoners Captured in Sultan Yaqub” -- A Palestinian freed from a Syrian jail reports hearing that live Israeli soldiers were captured in Sultan Yaqub, and have been transferred from one militia group to another.

Hizbullah Leader Nassarallah: “Arad Last Seen in Good Health”

Damascus Jews: “Passover Foods Provided for MIAs in 1983” -- Yosef Kalish, a former Jewish resident of Damascus, tells ICMIS reps that in 1983 Mustafa Ahmed Issa, son of the Fatah commander in Damascus, approached a Syrian Jew, Luz Matzliah, with a request for several “kosher for Passover” meals for the Israelis they were holding captive -- almost ten months after the battle. After providing the materials, he was severely tortured by angry Syrian officials. (Ma’ariv--June 2)

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 1999

U.S. Congress Passes MIA Bill: The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate pass H.R. 1175 -- “A Bill to Locate and Secure the Release of Zachary Baumel, a U.S. Citizen and other Israelis Missing in Action.” The measure, which eventually passed both houses unanimously, stipulates that the State Department raise the issue on “an urgent basis” with the relevant Arab governments in the region. The bill also conditions American aid to Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and other governments in the region to their willingness to "assist in locating and securing the return of the soldiers.” The bill was introduced by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA).

President Clinton Signs MIA Bill: President Clinton signs H.R.1175 -- "A Bill to Locate and Secure the Release of Zachary Baumel, a United States Citizen, and Other Israeli Soldiers Missing in Action." H.R.1175 becomes Public Law 89-106. (November 8, 1999)

President Bill Clinton Supports H.R. 1175: “...I have signed the Act [H.R. 1175] into law. I believe it will send a powerful message of solidarity with the families of the missing soldiers and of our determination to do everything possible to resolve their cases. We will pursue every concrete lead to ascertain their fate; we will continue to consult closely with the families and the government of Israel; and we will raise the issue with other governments and with the Palestinian Authority....” (From a letter to American Jewish leaders, November 14, 1999)

Hillary Rodham Clinton Supports H.R. 1175: “I was privileged to announce during the course of my lecture [the Rabin lecture, in Israel] that the President had signed the MIA legislation that will make Israeli MIAs a signal part of American foreign policy, and I think now is the time to press as hard as we possibly can to get answers and force accountability, and I agree with that and will do whatever I can.” (O.U. Dinner, New York, December 14, 1999)

MIA Bill Introduced in Knesset: Likud MK Danny Naveh introduces a bill in the Israeli Knesset that stipulates that no agreement with Syria can be signed by Israel without Syria disclosing all information regarding Israel’s MIAs. The bill has the support of nine parties from the governing coalition and the opposition. The first reading the bill is scheduled for mid-February 2000.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister: “MIAs Captured Alive” -- Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Nawif Masalha, reports his meeting in Syria, with Col. Salah Ma’ani, the commander of the Syrian supported A’saika (Palestinian) units. Ma’ani was the commanding officer for the Palestinian forces which had participated in the Battle of Sultan Yaqub. Ma’ani told him that he had captured living but injured Israeli soldiers, who were then transferred to the Syrian authorities. Masalha says that he believes that the MIAs could be alive. (December 31, 1999, Israel Radio -- Reshet Beit, Bahatzi Hayom 12:11)

whiteball.gif (201 bytes) 2000

Ibrahim Suliman: "Baumel is Alive" – Prof. Ibrahim Suliman, a Syrian-American national, and a close friend of Syrian President Assad, states once again that MIA Zachary Baumel is alive. (January 5, 2000)

Hizbullah Leader: "Arad May Be Alive" -- Sheihk Hassan Nassarallah states that his organization is continuing to aggressively search for Ron Arad. The Hizbullah leader states that, it is still possible that Arad is alive. (Jan. 13, 2000 – Kol Yisrael News 07:00)

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