Foundation for MIAs Reveals New Photo From 1982 Battle of Sultan Yacoub

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Born to Freedom Foundation, which works to find information about Israel Defense Forces MIAs, yesterday presented a photograph of a tank from the battle of Sultan Yacoub on which a body can be seen.

According to the chairman of the foundation's board, Eliad Shraga, the tank is a Patton tank. The body of the soldier can be seen on it with his hands covering his face.

The foundation's reconstruction of the Syrian photograph.Credit: The Born to Freedom Foundation

The photograph may shed light on the battle of Sultan Yacoub, which took place in 1982 during the first Lebanon war. Three soldiers have been missing in action since that battle: Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman.

Miriam Baumel, Zachary's mother, gave the foundation the photograph, which was from an archive her late husband had maintained.

The original Syrian photograph provided by Miriam BaumelCredit: The Born to Freedom Foundation

"What is new here is the angle, from which it is very clear that there is a body on the front of the tank," Shraga said.

The reserve battalion that fought in the battle, to which the three soldiers belonged, left eight damaged tanks on the battlefield.

Maj. Gen. (res. ) Herzl Bodinger, who is active in the foundation, said, "They wouldn't put the body of an Arab soldier on a tank [driving] through the city streets. After all, they want to humiliate us."

According to information obtained by Born to Freedom, the British military attache in Damascus at that time, Lt. Col. Adrian Peck, said he saw the tank on the Beirut-Damascus road.

Over the past few months, Miriam Baumel has been conducting a legal battle in Britain to get a report by Britain's ambassador to Syria at the time, Ivor Lucas, made public. The report apparently states that Syrian forces had captured the missing IDF soldiers and that they were on their way to Damascus. In an article published previously by the Jewish Chronicle, Baumel said she was not allowed to see the report, because Britain said it would damage its relations with Syria.

But Born to Freedom said that Britain's Foreign Office recently agreed in principle to let her view the report, which could shed light on the MIAs.

The foundation has come out with the new information in an effort to fight a Defense Ministry decision to stop funding it.

"The Defense Ministry is fighting us, and we have to respond and explain what we're doing," the foundation's director, Maj. Gen. (res. ) Eyal Ben-Reuven, told Haaretz.

Last November, the Defense Ministry established a public committee to study the foundation's effectiveness. The committee said the association had obtain no helpful information about the prisoners and the MIAs.

The panel also said the group's "professional intelligence activities can and should be carried out by the intelligence agencies."

But Baumel told the press conference, "We are doing things that the Defense Ministry cannot do and working in unfriendly territory - in Iran, in Gaza, in Lebanon."

The Defense Ministry said in response that it was "considering in what form support for the association's public activity can be continued."