|Contact:||Sunny Mindel/Matthew Higgins
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today joined City Council Speaker Peter Vallone,
Israeli public officials and the families of four abducted Israelis to call
for the release of the hostages and to bring renewed international attention
to their plight. The three Israeli soldiers and one civilian were abducted by
Hizbollah agents in separate incidents last October, and their fate remains
unknown. Prior to meeting with the Mayor and Speaker Vallone, the families met
earlier in the day with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in an effort to keep
up international pressure for the release of the hostages.
On October 7, 2000 Israeli soldiers Sgt. Omer Sawaid, Sgt. Binyamin Avraham and Sgt. Adi Avitan were abducted while on routine patrol along the Lebanese border. Hizbollah claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but has refused to release information on the soldiers' condition. Hizbollah also claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Elchanan Tenenboim, a colonel in the Israeli reserves, while he was on a business trip in Europe.
Also joining the Mayor were Aaron Jacob, Deputy Israeli Ambassador to the U.N.; Yossi Levine, Deputy Consul General of Israel; Sharon Tzur, Director of Media Watch International; and members of the Tenenboim, Avitan, Sawaid and Avraham families.
"In the seven and a half months since the kidnappings occurred, the plight of these four men has faded somewhat from the headlines, yet they remain in captivity. Their families have had to endure this difficult situation with no information about the condition or whereabouts of their loved ones," the Mayor said. "The international community must bring renewed pressure on the terrorist group Hizbollah to release the hostages and must call upon the nations that support Hizbollah to renounce such a cowardly act. In the interim, representatives of the International Red Cross must be allowed to visit with the hostages and evaluate their condition. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want to convey that the hostages will remain in our thoughts and prayers until they are freed."
City Council Speaker Peter Vallone said, "Our hearts go out to the families. Their sons and brothers were kidnapped in a terrorist act by Hizbollah agents, and their fates are unknown. I cannot even imagine their suffering. I met with the families in October. Shortly afterward, the City Council passed a resolution calling on Hizbollah to immediately release these hostages. I presented copies of the resolution to Israel government officials during my recent visit. We will continue to do everything possible to keep the eyes of the world on the plight of these men."
Ambassador Yehudah Lankri, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N., said, "We urge and expect Lebanon to allow the International Red Cross access to the Israeli soldiers in order to learn of their condition."
Sharon Tzur, Director of Media Watch International said, "As Americans,
we should reconsider our economic assistance to Lebanon, the home of Hizbollah,
which is obligated by international law to prohibit militias from operating
within its boundaries against other countries."