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  • The remains of Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel, who went missing in Lebanon in 1982, were returned to Israel.

    The remains of Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel, who went missing in Lebanon in 1982, were returned to Israel. | Photo: JTS courtesy of Miriam Baumel

Published 4 April 2019

The Russian Federation returned the remains of an Israeli Defense Forces soldier that was killed during the Lebanese Civil War. 

The Russian armed forces helped Israel recover the remains of an Israeli soldier that was killed in Lebanon during the country's long civil war, the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement.

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The remains of Sgt. Maj. Zachary Baumel were transferred to Israel this week following Russia's successful attempt to persuade the Syrian government to reveal his grave site.

Baumel was one of three Israeli soldiers that went missing after the Battle of Sultan Yaqoub against the Syrian military. 

During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "our soldiers together with Syrian partners established his resting place. We are very happy that they will be able to give him the necessary military honours at home." 

At first, the Israeli media reported that Baumel's remains were transferred from Syria by a third party; however, on Thursday, Netanyahu confirmed that it was indeed Russia that helped secure the Israeli soldier's remains.

Netanyahu confirmed at a press conference that he had made the request to Putin two-years earlier and later thanked the Russian President for completing this initiative. 

"I want to thank you, my friend, for what you have done," Netanyahu told Putin. 

"Today, we are lifting the uncertainty and closing a circle," Mr Netanyahu said in a televised speech on Wednesday.

IDF chief of staff Lt Gen Aviv Kochavi said: "On the shoulders of IDF commanders, whom I lead, there is a great obligation to take care of every soldier who joins the IDF and swears allegiance to Israel. "This was a multi-year effort... during which various studies and operations were carried out to locate the missing persons. The culmination of the effort was a series of operations led by the intelligence branch, which led to the identification and return of Sgt Baumel."

The IDF spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said Israel will now be conducting an autopsy using forensic evidence to establish how the soldier died. 


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