Har Herzl Military Cemetery
Har Herzl Military Cemetery Israel news photo: Flash 90

The family of fallen IDF soldier Zion Tayeb (of blessed memory), who was killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, opened his grave on Saturday night on Har Herzl without permission - and discovered that it was empty.

Tayeb was drafted in May 1973 and served in the Nefach territorial brigade. He was sent to serve on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights a few days before the war broke out; shortly after his arrival, all contact was severed between him and his family.

The State said that he fell in battle and that his body was found in a mass grave on Mount Hermon; he was later buried - or so the family thought - in Jerusalem.

The Tayeb family has accused the IDF, the Defense Ministry, the IDF Rabbinate, and the Attorney General's Office for years of being negligent in the identification of their son and the investigation over his death. The family claims that not enough evidence or testimony has been brought over the years that he fell in the war, and have demanded a renewed investigation into the death over and over again. Last month, the Supreme Court rejected the Tayeb family's request to open the grave to conduct DNA testing on the body.

Family members now demand the resignation of the Head of the IDF's Manpower Division, Major General Orna Barbivay, over the incident as well as an external investigation.

The IDF responded by noting that opening the grave, in any case, was illegal. 

"The family's request to open the tomb was discussed by the Supreme Court, which accepted the state's position that the deceased's identity was confirmed - and therefore that there was no legal precedent to open the grave," the IDF stated. "The IDF sympathizes with the Tayeb family and will continue to accompany them [throughout the process] as necessary."