IDF soldier Majdi Halabi
IDF soldier Majdi Halabi Flash 90

Although IDF soldier Majdi Halabi has been officially declared dead, and was buried in a military funeral in October, some members of the Druze community believe that there is more to the story than they are being told. In a letter to Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich, MK Akhram Hasson (Kadima) laid out those misgivings, saying that the IDF may have spoken too soon when it declared Halabi dead.

The IDF declared the long-missing soldier dead – ending the long-standing mystery regarding his fate – after an Israeli civilian found a body that the IDF later said was Halabi's not far from where he was last seen near his home in Daliat al-Carmel, south of Haifa. Halabi went missing in 2005. He served at the Chimush base, near Tirat HaCarmel south of Haifa. Halabi's remains were sent to the Israel Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv for identification, and the Institute reported that the remains were indeed Halabi's.

However, Hasson said in his letter to Aharonovich, the reports that the remains were Halabi's were not necessarily accurate. “When the information on Halabi came out, top IDF officers were interviewed in the media to discuss the soldier, and they expressed their condolences to the family. They promised the family a complete report on the forensic findings within two weeks, but since then a month has passed, and there are still many open questions,” and apparently the report remains unfinished, Hasson wrote

One reason for that, apparently, is the fact that the identification of Halabi was made on the basis of only two bones, from his neck. Those are the only remains that have been definitely identified as belonging to Halabi; examination of the other remains was inconclusive, and no documents or personal effects that Halabi was known to be carrying when he went missing have been found, either. “We therefore have the right to be suspicious of the findings,” Hasson wrote. “I am shocked that the family has not yet received serious and reliable information, as would be expected in a properly-functioning state like Israel.”

The family, said Hasson, has misgivings about the report, as do others in the Druze community. Addressing Aharonovich, Hasson said that it would be most helpful if the Minister would “set up a meeting between the family and the officials who dealt with the identification of the soldier's remains.” The Halabi family, he said, “have acted bravely and nobly throughout this entire affair, with respect of the state and the legal system. It would be worthy for the state to act in a similar manner towards them,” he added. “It saddens me that such sensitive issues are handled in a manner like this here.”

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Kozli, the Dalyat al-Carmel resident who discovered what the Institute said were Halabi's remains, is suing the State for NIS 40 million, the amount he says he expects to receive for discovering the remains. The figure represents the shekel equivalent of a $10 million reward that was announced several years ago by the “Lachofesh Nolad” (Born to be Free) organization, to be awarded to anyone who forwarded information that led to information on the soldier's fate.

An attorney for Kozli said that it was an open and shut case. “The failure to pay presents the State as a body that does not live up to its promises.” The attorney said that Kozli was suing the State, because the Defense Ministry took over the assets of Lachofesh Nolad after the announcement that Halabi's remains had been discovered.