Thursday, June 26, 2008

Families of Missing Iranian Jews: No Info No Deal!

Families of 12 missing Iranian Jews demand Israeli Government not hand over information on missing Iranian officials until details on the fate of their loved ones in Tehran is secured.

An urgent letter has been sent today (Thrusday) to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on behalf of the families of the 12 Iranian Jews, missing in Iran since the mid-'90's. The letter, written by the families' attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, demands that the Prime Minister not authorize a prisoner exchange with the Hezbollah terrorist organization at Sunday's cabinet meeting until such time as reliable and detailed information is received about the missing Jews' fate.

In the years between 1994-1997, 12 Iranian Jews who attempted to flee Iran and emigrate to Israel disappeared without a trace. All of the Jews were attempting to cross the Iran-Pakistan border. It is alleged by the families that the Jews were kidnapped by Iranian security services and are still being held captive in Tehran.

Recently, details of a planned prisoner exchange with Hezbollah have surfaced whereby Israel, in addition to other concessions would provide Hezbollah with information concerning 4 Iranian diplomats who were abducted in Beirut in July 1982 during the first Lebanon War, by a Lebanese-Christian militia (the Samir Jaja faction), in South Lebanon. The information on the fate of the missing Iranian officials is being requested by Hezbollah's financial patrons in Tehran.

In the letter to the Prime Minister, Darshan-Leitner, Director of Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center, the families of the 12 disappeared Iranian Jews demand that the government honor the obligations imposed upon it by the Israeli High Court approximately two years ago that [the Israeli government] "Push forward diligently without sparing any effort in order to gain information about the [12 missing] Jews of Iran." The families are insisting that there be a "quid pro quo" on information about their family members in exchange for the release of the details on the fate of the missing Iranians.

The letter states: "If the Israeli government intends to honor their court-ordered obligations, the government is not permitted to hand over information in its possession regarding the four Iranian diplomats, which is the last bargaining chip Israel has that could shed some light on the fate of the twelve missing."

Attorney Darshan-Leitner has stated: "The missing Jews in Iran tried to come to Israel at the encouragement and with the assistance of the Israeli government. It is therefore the responsibility of the Israeli government to do everything it can to gain reliable, specific information regarding their whereabouts in order to give closure and end the suffering of the wives, children, fathers and mothers [of the twelve]. Without proof that the information has been received from Iran and transmitted through Hezbollah, the only thing we can draw from this is that the fates of the twelve [Iranian Jews] have been abandoned. It is simply unthinkable that the State of Israel would convey information about the four disappeared Iranian diplomats without receiving in exchange information about the twelve missing Jews in Iran. Information about the diplomats is the last bargaining chip in Israel's hands toward acquiring information about the missing Jews in Iran. If we give it up with nothing in return, the possibility of knowing what happened to the twelve missing is totally dead."

Darshan-Leitner emphasized that, if the families' demands are not answered, they intend to immediately appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court to stop Israel's intended prisoner exchange with Hezbollah.