MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thanked the Defense Ministry of Russia along with Russian President Vladimir Putin for returning the remains of Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel who died 37 years ago.
During the talks in the Kremlin, the leaders touched upon the work of voluntary units who search for the bodies of soldiers fallen in battle and try to identify them. Putin told Netanyahu that the Russian search squads "exhumed the remains of 120,000 Soviet soldiers and identified 6,000 servicemen who were thought to be missing in action."
"The same happened to the remains of Zachary Baumel, who died back in 1982 and was missing in action," the Russian president said. He pointed out that the Russian military "alongside their Syrian partners established where his burial site was." "We are very happy that Israel can bestow upon him military honors in his homeland. But the main thing is that it’s purely a humanitarian issue, so that his relatives could simply lay flowers at his graves," the Russian leader emphasized.
Prime Minister Netanyahu recalled that two years ago he had appealed to Putin to assist in finding the remains of the MIA Israeli soldier, which has successfully been completed now. According to the Israeli leader, the remains of Zachary Baumel will be buried on Thursday. Among his relatives and friends who will be attending his funeral is his 100-year-old mother.
"As far as I am concerned, all the DNA tests were completed, the remains are under our care and today, in accordance with military honors, we will transfer the remains [to Israel]," Putin said. Netanyahu thanked the Russian Defense Ministry for their assistance in the search for the Israeli soldier’s burial site. According to him, "the Russian soldiers acted truly selflessly, risked their lives" and managed to transfer the remains of Zachary Baumel. "We will not forget this," he vowed.
Putin admitted that "it wasn’t an easy operation for the military." The Russian president extended his most cordial words to the relatives of the fallen Israeli soldier.
The Battle of Sultan Yacoub
On April 3, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) press service reported that the remains of Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel, who was killed 37 years ago in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in Lebanon, were returned to Israel. In June 1982, an Israeli tank unit was ambushed by Syrian troops, around 30 Israeli servicemen died, Syria seized a few tanks as a trophy. The battle is considered to be one of the bloodiest episodes of the First Lebanon War. After the battle, Israeli soldiers Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz were also deemed to be missing in action.