The body of an Israeli soldier who disappeared in the battle during the First Lebanon War was returned to his family after 37 years, the Israel Defense Forces said on Wednesday.
”The body of Brooklyn-born first sergeant Zachary Baumel was repatriated to Israel several days ago”. said the IDF spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus
After DNA tests at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv confirmed his identity, the body was handed over to family members on and will be buried properly tonight at 7pm.
Baumel disappeared during the battle of Sultan Yacoub near the border between Lebanon and Syria that took place on the sixth day of the First Lebanon War in June 1982.
Israel suffered 20 casualties in the battle dozens of wounded and 3 soldiers went missing; Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, and Yehuda Katz. The former 2 are still MIA and were not part of this recovery mission.
The families of the other soldiers who have been missing from the Sultan Yacoub battle, Yehuda Katz, and Zvi Feldman were informed that Baumel’s remains had been located.
The relatives of IDF navigator Ron Arad who disappeared during a mission in Lebanon in 1986, and the families of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who have been missing in Gaza since the 2014 war with Hamas, were also informed that the remains of Baumel had been returned.
The operation to return the remains of Baumel led by Colonel A. of the intelligence branch has been in the works for a few weeks. When Colonel A. felt it the mission was a ‘go’, he gave the green light to the troops who had the task of returning his body to proceed.
” There was no agreement or negotiations made to return Baumel. He was returned in a military operation”, said IDF spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manlis.
“We are not saying where his body was found. The operation proves that we never abandoned the Sultan Yacoub case. The families know that we will continue to make every effort to bring their sons home.”
During today’s press conference between Russia President Vladimir Putin and PM Benjamin Netanyahu, it was revealed that Russia played a strong role in helping to retrieve Baumel’s body in Syria.