The Jerusalem Chronicle reported Saturday night that the British government is refusing to release documents with information concerning the fate of three Israeli soldiers missing since 1982. They claim the sensitive material could potentially harm diplomatic ties with Syria.
The three Israeli soldiers, Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman, went missing after clashes with Syrian and Palestinian troops near the Lebanese village of Sultan Yaqub during the Lebanon War in June, 1982.
Ivor Lucas, the UK’s ambassador to Syria, submitted a report to London on the day of the clash, and may have even witnessed the soldiers’ capture by Syrian troops.
A legal team from Manchester is reportedly taking action over the silence from the UK government, acting on behalf of Zachary Baumel’s mother, Miriam. They are demanding the release of information from the British government.
The common response received by the British Foreign Office, after petitions for the release of information, according to Baumel, has been:
“We are conscious that the release of sensitive information would cause harm to our relationship with Syria.”
To which Baumel protested, according to the Jewish Chronicle:
“I just want the public to know this is a humanitarian matter…We keep getting information that these boys and my son were seen in Damascus and that there were witnesses, and anyone who saw something or who could help must help. I feel the possibilities are great that he is still alive, but certainly the families of those who were seen in Damascus are entitled to closure…I am calling on the British government to act in a humanitarian manner and let the families know by releasing this document, for us to go further in finding our children. If you have children, if one of your children would be lost, how would you feel?”
Meanwhile, Syria is very much a point of suspicion for Israeli and Western intelligence lately.
According to the Jerusalem Post:
“A compound in western Syria with buildings and hundreds of missile-shaped items has been identified as functionally related to a nuclear reactor Israel destroyed northeast of Damascus in 2007…Satellite footage of the site in Masyaf was obtained by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security and shows a compound built in a ravine and surrounded by what appears to be a line of trenches.”
The facility could also possibly be a Hezbollah stronghold. A WikiLeaks cable reported increased Syrian support for Hezbollah, including domestic facilities and the donation of longer-range rockets and guided missiles that “could change the military balance and produce a scenario significantly more destructive” than the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
A U.S. Defense Department official told the New York Times Hezbollah has 50,000 missiles and rockets, including 40-50 missiles able to reach Tel Aviv, and 10 Scud missiles.