Body of IDF soldier who fell in 1st Lebanon war returned to family after 37 years

37 years after going missing in action in the battle of Sultan Yaaqub in the First Lebanon war, the body of Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel has been returned to Israel.

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The body of Brooklyn-born Sgt. Zachary Baumel was repatriated to Israel several days ago aboard an El Al flight via an unnamed third country in an operation by Israeli intelligence agencies, but not as part of any deal with other countries.

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After DNA tests at Abu Kabir Forensics Institute in Tel Aviv confirmed his identity. Baumel’s body will be laid to rest in the upcoming days.

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The body has been identified at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir and by the IDF’s chief rabbi. Baumel’s body was handed over to family members and will be laid to rest in the upcoming days.

Baumel was one of six soldiers who went missing in Lebanon on June 11, 1982, at the beginning of the First Lebanon War, fighting against Syrian forces.

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Twenty IDF soldiers were killed in the battle, one of Israel’s worst failures in the war. Two soldiers were taken captive and the body of a third missing soldier was returned in 1984 and 1985. The whereabouts of two others, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, are still unknown.

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Up until the return of Baumel’s body, the fate of the three missing soldiers remained unclear, and they were believed to have been held by ‘Palestinian’ terror groups in Syria.

Baumel’s father, Yonah, who passed away in 2009, said he was convinced his son was still alive.

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In 2016, Russia handed Israel one of two Israeli tanks that were part of the Sultan Yaaqub battle, which has been housed in a Russian museum for several decades.

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