Mother begs MI6 to find soldier son

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 26, 2011
Miriam Baumel with the remains of her son Zachary’s dogtag

Miriam Baumel with the remains of her son Zachary’s dogtag

The mother of one of Israel's longest-missing soldiers, Zachary Baumel, made an emotional plea this week for MI6 and the British government to "live up to their humanitarian obligations" and reveal information about Israel's missing soldiers.

Miriam Baumel was speaking during a visit to the UK this week. Zachary was captured with two other Israeli soldiers, after the battle of Sultan Yacoub in Lebanon in 1982.

All three, members of an Israeli tank crew, are understood to have been taken by the Syrians, and it is thought that British diplomats in Damascus at the time witnessed the three being paraded through the Syrian capital.

Mrs Baumel, 79, travelled from Israel to London after making requests to meet, on a personal basis, unidentified British government officials.

She said: "John Sawers, the MI6 chief, said in 2010, 'We have a duty to do what we can to ensure that a partner service will respect human rights.'

"I'm not talking to them on politics or grandiose things, but basic human rights. Where are my son's basic human rights, taken and held without contact with the world at all? "

Mrs Baumel called on the UK Jewish community "to help convince your government that it is the right thing to release information they have about my son, and that political considerations should not enter into this".

On Monday she met Manchester lawyers who are fighting to obtain government documents which may hold vital clues about the fate of the MIAs.

Earlier this year the Defence Ministry said it had lost or destroyed a report of a key sighting of the men, while the Foreign Office said that some documents would remain secret to prevent a deterioration of relations with Syria.

That commitment to secrecy, however, was made before the Arab Spring and the unrest in Syria which has been widely condemned by Britain.

"Let the British government find a solution that would protect their relations and would also help us," pleaded Mrs Baumel. She clutched her son's dog-tag, released by Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in 1993, which she wears constantly.

Last updated: 11:47am, June 23 2011