Monday, August 13, 2007

Bodies of 5 soldiers killed in 1948 war identified


May their families finally have peace in knowing the fate of their loved ones, all heros of Israel.

Last update - 22:08 13/08/2007
By Yuval Azoulay Haaretz Correspondent

Fifty-nine years after they were killed in the War of Independence near the Arab village of Tel Arish, the Israel Defense Forces has identified the bodies of five fighters.

The men were soldiers in Batallion 52 of the Givati Brigade, and have been identified as First Lieutenant Yehiel Rosenfeld, Private David Kohavi, Private Itzhak Hamami, Private Yehoshua Lustig and a fifth soldier.

The remains of the soldiers, who up until now were considered missing, were identified in unmarked graves in the Nahalat Itzhak cemetery. Their families have been notified.

The mission to locate the bodies has gone on for approximately ten years. Nine months ago, the graves of the five were dug up, and samples from the bodies were sent to a laboratory in the United States, where DNA from the bones was compared with samples from family members.

The decision to dig up the graves was made after lengthy debates between the Chief Rabbinate and the IDF unit that searches for missing people, was finally reached after the IDF insisted "beyond reasonable doubt" that they knew the identities of the missing soldiers.

The breakthrough was made thanks to the possibility of carrying out the tests in the United States, using technology unavailable in Israel.

"These were nine months of taut nerves, during which consistent contacts were maintained with the families," said a source from the IDF unit carrying out the searches.

The five soldiers fell during a battle over "Pillbox Hill" near the Arab village of Tel Arish, near Holon. The battle was fought to gain free access between Jerusalem and Jaffa.

The remains of Corporal Amos Danieli and Private Itzhak Kandler, also of Batallion 52, are still missing.

The remains of a total of 109 fallen soldiers are currently missing, and the fates of ten soldiers are unknown.

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