Remains of soldier missing since 1982 returned to Israel
Israel announced that the remains of a soldier missing since the 1982 Lebanon war had been returned to the country on Wednesday, bringing to a close a highly sensitive case for Israelis.
Sergeant First Class Zachary Baumel had been missing since what is known as the Battle of Sultan Yacoub, said Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus.
Israel's military declined to provide details on how the remains were retrieved, apart from the fact that Baumel's body was transferred by an El Al flight via an unnamed third country in an operation in an Israeli intelligence operation.
"Over the years the (military) has undertaken significant intelligence and operational efforts in order to find the locations and to bring back the remains of those missing in action," Conricus said.
"Over the last year there were significant developments and the opportunity arose to locate the body," he added.
Netanyahu will reportedly name the third country in a statement given tonight about the retrieval operation.
Some observers speculate it was the Russians who were involved.
The announcement comes just days before the Israeli election on April 9, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's trip to Moscow on Thursday.
Baumel was one of six Israeli soldiers who went missing in the battle against Syrian forces near the village of Sultan Yacoub at the beginning of the First Lebanon War. The whereabouts of two other soldiers, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, remain unknown.
Baumel was born in the United States, but immigrated to Israel. His body will be buried in the following days.
Netanyahu has met with a string of high-profile leaders in the run-up to the polls. He aims to win a fifth term as prime minister.
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