Uri Tannenbaum hasn’t seen or talked to his father in nearly two years.
Last week, he tried to get a message to his dad the only way he can: through the media.
"Dad, you must know you’re with us. We love you. We miss you," Uri said, not knowing for sure whether Elchanan Tannenbaum will ever hear his words: or if he’s even still alive.
Elchanan, an Israeli businessman and a reserve colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces, was abducted in Switzerland by the Hezbollah terrorist group in October 2000, shortly after they kidnapped IDF Sgts. Benny Avraham, 21, Omar Suwayeed, 27, and Adi Avitan, 22, during an ambush on the Israel-Lebanese border.
Uri Tannenbaum and his mother joined the families of the other missing soldiers last week during appearances here and in Washington to help raise public awareness about their plight, and gain support from U.S. lawmakers.
Standing in front of New York Gov. George Pataki and Israeli minister Dan Naveh at a Manhattan news conference, Uri said last Thursday marked 634 days since he last saw his father.
"I miss him enormously," he said. "He is a father, a husband, a brother."
Uri warned that the abduction of his father while visiting Switzerland signals a dangerous precedent in world terrorism: a foreign national kidnapped on foreign soil.
Chaim Avraham, father of Benny, accused the UN of withholding key information about his son and his two comrades. "We want them to release that information," he said.
The terrorists were disguised as UN peacekeepers and used UN equipment. Remarkably, the incident was videotaped by UN forces, which also taped Hezbollah removing crucial evidence from the scene: an effort covered up by the UN.
Pataki, who called the abductions "horrific acts and inhumane," signed a letter asking UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the presidents of Iran, Syria and Lebanon to help win the release of the four hostages.
"Of course we hope and pray that our children can be restored to us alive," Naveh said. "However even if they are no longer living, we yearn to have their remains brought home. By burying our dead, we can at least bring closure to our loss.
"We beseech you to convince these men to release our loved ones. Our children’s battle is done forever. The hope of a better day for all our children begins with gestures such as this. We wait by empty beds and empty graves for your answer."
Last week a German newspaper reported that Hezbollah was seeking the release of 100 prisoners held by Israel in return for Tannenbaum. The paper reported Israel received proof that Tannenbaum is alive.
Naveh publicly asked for anyone with any contacts that could help bring the Israelis home to come forward.