October 2000 – January 2004
Sgt. Adi Avitan
- Adi Avitan – 22 years old, single.
- Benyamin (Benny) Avraham – 21 years old, single.
- Omar Sawaid – 27 years old, married with two children.
On October 7, 2000, three Israeli soldiers were abducted by the Hizbullah terror organization. The three Israelis are Sgt. Adi Avitan, Staff Sgt. Benyamin Avraham and Staff Sgt. Omar Sawaid. They were abducted while patroling the southern (Israeli) side of the Israeli-Lebanese border. This borderline is officially recognized by the UN Secretary General and the Security Council as the Israeli deployment line, and is fully in accord with Security Council Resolution 425.
As a result of an investigation carried out at the scene of the abduction, it emerges that the Hizbullah men disguised themselves as UN personnel, using uniforms and vehicles carrying the UNIFIL insignia.
Since their abduction, they were held incommunicado by the Hizbullah in an unknown location, in gross violation of international law. The captors denied the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other parties permission to visit them and to learn at first hand about their state of health and the conditions they were held in.
Findings from the scene of the abduction indicate that the soldiers’ vehicle was bombed, and that as a result of the explosion and the shootings, all or at least some of the soldiers were wounded.
October 29, 2001: Major General Gil Regev, announced at a press conference: "According to new and reliable information, the probability that the boys are dead is high."
Findings from the scene of the abduction indicate that the soldiers’ vehicle was bombed, and that as a result of the explosion and the shootings, all or at least some of the soldiers were wounded. Regev said that military intelligence estimates that the three were either killed during the initial Hizbullah attack or immediately afterward.
November 2, 2001: The IDF’s chaplain general, Brigadier General Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, declared the three IDF soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah last year as soldiers killed in action whose place of burial is unknown. The families of the three soldiers accepted the decision.
The families of Sgt. Adi Avitan and St.-Sgt. Benyamin Avraham began sitting shiva, the seven-day Jewish mourning period, after the announcement of the ruling. Although the sheikh of Wadi Salameh supported the rabbi’s decision to declare Omar Sawaid a soldier killed in action whose place of burial is not known, the family did not open a mourner’s tent, because according to Islam, one of two conditions must be met before mourning is begun – either the body must be brought to the family, or two adult witness must testify that they saw the dead body.
Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer appealed to US Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer to work with Syria to hasten the return of the soldiers’ bodies.
On October 16, the Hizbullah Secretary General Nasrallah announced that his organization was holding an Israeli citizen, Elhanan Tannenbaum – 54 years old at the time of the abduction and father of two children. As far as we know, Tannenbaum, a businessman was abducted while on a private business trip to Europe.
We have no information regarding the physical condition of Mr. Elhanan Tannenbaum. He suffers from medical problems which require daily treatment. His medical file has been transfered to the ICRC together with his medicines. We are aware that the ICRC has sent the medicines over to the Hizbullah in Beirut but we do not know for sure whether he actually received them.
On August 26, 2003 it was reported that German mediator Ernst Uhrlau met in Lebanon with kidnapped Israeli citizen, Col. (res.) Elhanan Tannenbaum and reported to Israel on his medical condition.
Agreement on release of prisoners and kidnapped Israelis in Lebanon:
November 9, 2003:
IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon at ceremony on arrival of coffins in Israel (Jan 29, 2004)