Former POW to Kissinger: Thanks for saving my life (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Omri Efraim Published: 06.21.12, 09:46)
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Benny Kiryati, whose fighter plane was downed over Damascus in 1974,
says he was included in prisoner exchange deal only due to former US
secretary of state´s efforts
Thirty-eight years after being released from Syrian captivity, former
Israel Air Force navigator Benny Kiryati met the man he claims saved
his life – Dr. Henry Kissinger.
The two met on Wednesday at the gravesite of slain Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. On
Tuesday President Shimon Peres presented the former US secretary of
state with an award honoring his "significant contribution to the
State of Israel and to humanity."
Kissinger was greeted at Mount Herzl by Kiryati, a former mayor of
Tiberias, and Dalia Rabin-Pilosoph, the daughter of the assassinated
In April 1974 Kiryati´s plane was downed over Damascus. The pilot,
Captain Yigal Stavi, was killed, and Kiryati, a young lieutenant at
the time, was captured.
"Captivity is the ultimate test for a man," he said. "It requires all
of one´s physical and mental strength."
Kissinger and Rabin worked together to free Israeli prisoners of war
held by Syria, but initially Kiryati´s name was not on the list of
POWs slated for release. "All of the 60 soldiers who were freed -
most of them Yom Kippur War POWs – owe their release to Kissinger,"
"My debt is even greater because my name was added to the list only
after Kissinger intervened," he added. "If not for his efforts, it´s
possible that I would not be standing here today."
Dalia Rabin-Pilosoph said Kiryati is one of many Israelis who owe
thanks to Kissinger.
"His efforts, along with my father´s, to formulate an interim
agreement in the aftermath of the war - despite all the difficulties –
laid the foundation for the peace treaty with Egypt which was signed
by (late) Prime Minister Menachem Begin," she said. (Copyright 2012 ©
Yedioth Internet 06/21/12)
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