Israel unofficially closed the file of three soldiers lost in Sultan Yacoub Battle during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Arab48 reported yesterday.
The Arabic news site reported the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth saying sources from the Israeli intelligence services said that the three soldiers, Tzvi Feldman, Yehuda Katz and Zachary Baumel, must be known as "martyrs".
The families of the three soldiers rejected this, with Katz's sister saying: "This will never happen as long as I am alive." She expressed her dissatisfaction that the Israeli authorities do not expect "my brother is alive".
Five Israeli soldiers were lost and 30 were killed during the Sultan Yacoub Battle between Syria and Israel during the 1982 Lebanon War. Two soldiers were returned to Israel alive but three remain missing.
In 2016, Russia handed over a tank captured by Syria during the battle, but it was not the one used by the three lost soldiers.
"For 34 years, we have searched for our warriors in the knowledge we will not rest until we bring them to Israel for burial. Throughout those 34 years, the Katz, Feldman and Baumel families have had no grave to visit, but now they will have this tank," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a ceremony held to receive the tank.
"A remnant of Sultan Yacoub that they can visit and also touch — and through it remember their sons. We will continue to search for them as we still do for Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul."
A senior Israeli intelligence official said that the file was "unofficially closed" after "we had exhausted all efforts" to find the bodies.