Remember the Captives

The Arab struggle to destroy Israel includes an assault on the hearts and souls of the Jewish people as well as physical attacks on Israel and Jews.

Pidyon Shevuyim
Redeeming our 8 Captive Soldiers

By Maurice Ostroff

The captive soldiers

Top (L-R): Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman, Ron Arad,Yehuda Katz
Bottom: Guy Hever, Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev

Article 70 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War clearly states that “Immediately upon capture, or not more than one week after arrival at a camp, every prisoner of war shall be enabled to write direct to his family”, and Article 71 stipulates clearly that prisoners of war shall be allowed to send and receive letters and cards. Click here for the full text.

Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz have been missing-in-action since June 11, 1982.
Ron Arad was shot down over Lebanon on October 16, 1986.
Guy Hever disappeared from the Golan on August 17, 1997.
Gilad Shalit was abducted on June 25, 2006.
Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were abducted on July 12, 2006.

In flagrant defiance of the Geneva Conventions and simple human decency, the families of these captives are deliberately kept in suspense about the fates of their loved ones. How can such purposely refined cruelty be ignored?

The case of Zachary Baumel epitomizes the suffering and anxiety that the families endure. In an exquisite refinement of torture in 1993, Arafat acknowledged that he knew details of the fate of the soldier’s and handed half of Baumel’s identity tag to Yitzhak Rabin, with a firm promise that more information regarding the MIAs would be forthcoming. He never kept his promise, but it is believed that other members of the Palestinian Authority shared the knowledge. They should be pressed to disclose whatever information they have, especially when we are negotiating the release of Palestinian prisoners.

It is unconscionable, that the UN, Amnesty International, The Red Cross and other organizations that promote Human Rights are conspicuously silent about the diabolically cruel denial of even the most basic human rights to the 8 Israeli soldiers.

According to Maimonides no religious duty is more meritorious than redeeming captives (Pidyon Shevuyim) and it is therefore fitting that when we celebrate Pesach this year, we share the pain of those families whose seder tables are incomplete.

During the forthcoming Passover, let’s remember that when world Jewry was struggling for the release of Soviet Jews, we set aside an empty place at our seder tables to represent our missing kin.

Instead of 8 empty chairs, we can place a large figure 8 on the seder table to symbolize the 8 captives while we hope and pray for that elusive peace we all yearn for, so that PG, next year we can celebrate Passover in true freedom from the strife that plagues us.

This article originally appeared here and is reprinted with permission.

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