Former Sephardi chief rabbi Shlomo Amar (at head of table) joins David Meidan, to Amar’s right, to inform Iranian Jewish families of the fate of their family members. (photo by Ashernet/IGPO)
For the past 20 years, the fate of eight Iranian Jews who were attempting to escape to Israel has been unknown. On Thursday, March 20, former Mossad official David Meidan, who was charged with the inquiry into the disappearance of the eight Jews (plus three other Jews who were last heard from in 1997), told the families in Jerusalem that there is enough reliable information to conclude that all eight of the original Jews were captured and murdered while making their escape.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the Mossad had been tracking the 11 Jews who had fled Iran in four separate groups, eight in 1994 and the remaining three in 1997. The Iranian Jews vanished without a trace during their clandestine attempts to reach Israel. Families were left clinging to the hope that they had been kidnapped, or perhaps held in captivity by foreign governments. The Mossad did not provide detail into when or where the eight were killed, or by whom.
The Prime Minister’s Office said that the Mossad had relied on a “reliable source” for the information. An inquiry into the fate of the additional three Iranian Jews, who were last heard from in 1997, is ongoing.
The original eight Jews included Babak Shaoulian-Tehrani, 17, of Tehran; Shahin Nik-Khoo, 19, of Tehran; Salari Behzad, 21, of Kermanshah; Farad Ezati-Mahmoudi, 22, of Kermanshah; Homayoun Bala-Zade, 41, of Shiraz; Omid Solouki, 17, of Tehran; Rubin Kohan-Mosleh, 17, of Shiraz; and Ibrahim Kohan-Mosleh, 16, of Shiraz.
The three Jews whose fates remain currently unknown are Syrous Ghahremani, 32 at time of disappearance, of Kermanshah; Ibrahim Ghahremani, 61, of Kermanshah; and Nourollah Rabi-Zade, 52, of Shiraz.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the families and pledged to continue the investigation into the disappearance of the remaining three Iranians.
Meidan, the veteran Mossad official overseeing the investigation, was also involved in the negotiations for the release of soldier Gilad Shalit. After retiring two years ago, Meidan was approached by Netanyahu to continue to investigate the two cases.
Before the findings were presented to the families, the report was sent to former Sephardi chief rabbi Shlomo Amar, who ruled that the information was reliable according to halachah, Jewish law, a ruling that would allow the wives of the victims to remarry if they wish.