Damascus, Syria — A videotape showing two Israeli prisoners of war - who have not been seen since their capture in September l982 in Lebanon - was shown simultaneously Sunday to their families in Vienna and to a small group of journalists here.
The two soldiers, held in different unspecified locations, were shown in what appeared to be informal conversations with interviewers, Monitor correspondent Trudy Rubin reports. The tape, made on April 25, was brought out of Damascus by a special Austrian emissary, Herbert Amry.
The evidence of their good health may help level yet another stumbling block to negotiations for foreign troop withdrawal from Lebanon. Israel demands a prisoner exchange with Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) before any pullout, but said it would not start negotiations on prisoner exchange until the fate of the two men was known.
Youski Grove and Nissim Shalem, unlike six other Israeli soldiers captured at the same time, had been held incommunicado by a radical, pro-Syrian PLO splinter group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. The group said it was holding them to pressure Israel into giving data on missing PLO men, whom the organization suspected were being held inside Israel. Israel has denied holding any prisoners inside its borders.
The videotape was turned over after Mr. Amry received a brief tape from the Israelis of the PLO prison committee inside the Israeli prison camp, Ansar, in southern Lebanon.