British Foreign Office denies holding information on MIAs

Document could reveal information on fate of three Israeli soldiers who went missing in June 1982 during the First Lebanon War.

December 21, 2010 10:07
2 minute read.
An IDF tank maneuvers on the northern border, Tuesday.

IDF tank lebanon border 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)

LONDON – The British government has denied reports that it is withholding information on the whereabouts of three Israeli soldiers missing in action since 1982.

The Foreign Office is refusing to release documents relating to the fate of three Israeli soldiers – Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, who went missing in June 1982 during the First Lebanon War – stating that it could harm Britain’s relations with Syria, The Jewish Chronicle reported last week.

'UK refuses to release report on Israeli soldiers MIA'

The Foreign Office denied it had any, or was withholding any, information on the fate of the soldiers.

“If we held any information on the whereabouts of the individuals missing in action we would of course aim to share that with the Israeli Government,” a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “Our sympathies continue to be with the families of the men missing.”

The spokesman said it was “misleading” to call the information a MIA report.

“The information withheld by the Foreign Office in this instance did not contain any reference to the missing men,” he added.

Miriam Baumel, mother of Zachary, has repeatedly been refused access to a report written by Britain’s ambassador to Syria at the time, Ivor Lucas, who allegedly witnessed the soldiers’ abduction by Syrian forces after they were reportedly paraded through Damascus, according to the Jewish community weekly.

In August, Christian minister Rev Bob Carroll – who also founded the MIA UK Foundation, a Manchesterbased organization dedicated to facilitating the release of Israel’s MIAs – together with a team of Manchester lawyers acting for Miriam Baumel, called for the Foreign Office to make public the Lucas report under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that the Foreign Office is still refusing to release the document, a charge they deny.

“Rev. Carroll’s FOI request was dealt with in the proper way by the Foreign Office. There is no question of trying to withhold information other than for the reasons already stated,” the spokesman said.

“The Foreign Office takes its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act extremely seriously, and we carefully consider every request made. Where exemptions [apply] they are done so in accordance with the Act.”

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