PM Netanyahu
PM NetanyahuMeir Vaknin/Flash90

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the return of the body of Israeli MIA Zachary Baumel.

“Several days ago, the remains of IDF soldier Zachary Baumel were brought to Israel,” Netanyahu announced, explaining that the occasion was one of his “most exciting moments as prime minister.”

He said that, over the course of the 37 years since the 1982 Lebanon War during which Baumel has been missing, “Israel has invested huge resources in solving the riddle of his fate, along with those of his comrades Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz.”

“The bones brought to Israel are him - with certainty. Next to them, his uniform and tzitzit were also found."

"Soon Zachary will be laid to rest in Israel. I remember well Yonah, his father. He traveled across the entire world to find any trace of information about his missing son. Many times he told me in tears that he has one prayer: To find his son before he passes away. He passed away about a decade ago and did not merit to be here with us."

"A short while ago, we notified Zachary's family, his mother, brother and sister, that we had brought him home. They will accompany him to his final resting place."

Netanyahu related that Zachary Baumel "immigrated from the US, was a Hesder yeshiva student and was imbued with Zionist fire, an everlasting flame that brought him to the IDF, to the battle in which he fell."

"In his last words to his parents, written on a postcard before the Battle of Sultan Yaqub, he wrote, 'Don't worry, everything is okay, but it looks like I won't be home for a while.' It took Israel 37 years to bring him home."

“The operation to return Baumel is a consummate expression of the mutual responsibility and soldiers' comradery that characterize us as a nation, an army, and a state.

“It is the payment of a moral debt to fallen IDF soldiers and their families.”

He promised that Israel would “continue to invest every effort to return our other MIAs and KIAs, including Zachary’s comrades Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, Eli Cohen, Ron Arad, Oron Shaul, Hadar Goldin, and others who are missing. We will not cease this holy mission.”

Netanyahu thanked the entire Israeli intelligence community for its efforts to return Baumel.

“These efforts involved multi-faceted diplomatic action that still remains to be told.”

“The bringing of a killed IDF soldier for burial in Israel is always a wound in the heart of the family and the nation. But in this case, the pain of mourning also comes with the removal of doubt. Today we remove the uncertainty as to the fate of Zachary. Today, we come full circle.”

“May the memory of Zachary Baumel be blessed forever.”

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