On June 11, 1982, an Israeli unit battled with a Syrian armored unit in the Bekaa Valley in northeastern Lebanon. Sgt. Zachary Baumel, 1st Sgt. Zvi Feldman and Cpl. Yehudah Katz were captured by the Syrians that day. They were identified as the Israeli tank crew, and reported missing in Damascus. The Israeli tank was paraded through the streets of Damascus, flying the Syrian and Palestinian flag, was greeted with cheers from bystanders.
Since that terrible day in 1982, the Israeli and United States Governments have been doing their utmost to obtain any possible information about the fate of these missing soldiers, working with the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations, and other international bodies. According to the Geneva Convention, Syria is responsible for the fates of the Israeli soldiers because the area in Lebanon where the soldiers disappeared was continually controlled by Syria. To this day, despite promises made by the Syrian Government and by the PLO, very little information has been forthcoming about the condition of Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman, and Yehudah Katz. (more)
June 11, marks the anniversary of the day that these soldiers were reported missing in action. Sixteen pain-filled years have passed since their families have seen their sons, and still President Assad has not revealed their whereabouts.
Once of these missing soldiers, Zachary Baumel is an American citizen from my district in Brooklyn, NY. An ardent basketball fan, Zachary began his studies at the Yeshivah Eitz Chaim in Boro Park. In 1979, he moved to Israel with other family members and continued his education at a Yeshivat Hesder, where religious studies are integrated with army service. When the war with Lebanon began, Zachary was completing his military service and was looking forward to attending Hebrew University, where he had been accepted to study psychology. But fate decreed otherwise and on June 11, 1982, he disappeared with Zvi Feldman and Yehudah Katz.
Zachary’s parents Yonah and Miriam Baumel have been relentless in their pursuit of information about Zachary and his compatriots. Please write letters to your Congressmen, Senators, the Secretary of State and to the President asking them to help win the release of these boys. For 16 years, these families have been without their children. Answers are long overdue.