Photo: Reuters
Annan after landing in Israel
Photo: Reuters
Reproduction photo: Hagai Aharon
Eldad Regev
Reproduction photo: Hagai Aharon
Ehud Goldwasser

Captives' families: Annan gave no new information

Kidnapped soldiers' families disappointed following meeting with UN secretary-general, who failed to provide any new information on their loved ones. Earlier, Eldad Regev's brother says, 'we expect Annan to work for immediate sign of life.' Ehud Goldwasser's wife: We want to see acts, not just hear nice words

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan began his visit to Israel on Tuesday evening in a meeting with the families of the kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldiers at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem.


The families' representatives described the meeting as "crucial" and asked to receive a sign of life from their loved ones. However, they left the meeting disappointed and said that they had not received any new information.


Ahead of their meeting with the UN secretary-general, the families met with Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman.


Ehud Goldwasser's wife Karnit said that she expected the United Nations to take responsibility.


"We really hope that our meeting will bear fruit – in the form of Udi (Ehud), Eldad and Gilad – but we are nonetheless worried. We heard what Annan said in Lebanon and we are very happy that he committed there. We hope and expect the UN to take responsibility, to help with the implementation of Resolution 1701 and bring the three back home," she said.


Karnit added she would not settle for talks but wants to see results.


"Annan said he wants the captives to return home and I want to hear in person, not through the media. I also want to begin seeing deeds and seeing Udi, Eldad and Gilad starting to march home. We have not received anything until now, not even a sign of life. We want to begin seeing acts and not only hearing nice and important words," she explained.


Ambassador Gillerman said before the meeting with Annan: "I expect this meeting to create a very clear personal and moral commitment of the UN secretary-general to raise the make the issue of the kidnapped sons a top priority. In the coming days he is about to visit countries with both an interest and great influence in terms of this issue. I certainly hope that this meeting will raise his moral commitment."


Gillerman added: "There is great significance to the fact that this is the UN secretary-general's first meeting during his visit to Israel. He is seeing the families before he is seeing the defense minister, the prime minister and the foreign minister."


Eldad Regev's brother Benny took advantage of the media's presence in order to turn to all the relevant elements and ask them to work for the release of his brother and the other two captives.


"We think that presenting the human issue, as one person to another, is what will lead to acts and operations which will eventually bring about the release of the soldiers in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip," he said.


'Swiftness and firmness needed'

Regev noted that the three captives all celebrated their birthdays in captivity.


"The main feeling in the past month and a half is of uncertainty. Our level of knowledge today regarding Eldad's situation is completely identical to what we knew on the day of the kidnapping – nothing.


"We are unaware of his situation and whether he is in need of medical treatment. We don’t even know if he is alive and if he is in Lebanon. We first of all expect Annan to work for an immediate sign of life, also from Udi and Gilad," he said.


Regev added that "we are very disappointed with the ceasefire agreement which did not include the immediate return of Eldad and Udi. Beyond that, we believe that (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert did all he could to operate for the captives' return. What is needed here is firmness and swiftness."


The father, Zvi Regev, displayed his son's photo album.


"My feeling is that they (the government) are doing what needs to be done. We don’t know what they are doing, but they are doing," he said.


Before his visit to Israel, Annan toured southern Lebanon in a bid to closely examine the wreckage caused in the fighting between Israel and Hizbullah.


Annan and his entourage left Beirut Tuesday morning in two white United Nations helicopters, and landed in Naqoura, a town on the Mediterranean coast about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) north of the Israeli border, and home to UNIFIL headquarters.


פרסום ראשון: 08.29.06, 18:10
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