Military cemetery (illustrative)
Military cemetery (illustrative) Hadas Parush/Flash90

A funeral for a fallen soldier was held in the Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery on Thursday, in an emotional ceremony to mark the life of a young man who died fighting for Israel.

But while hundreds of funerals are, unfortunately, held every year in the Jewish state, Thursday's ceremony was special - as it was the funeral of a soldier who died fighting Israel's War of Independence 66 years ago (1948). 

Lt. Arik Tivon spearheaded efforts to confirm the death of the unknown soldier, Kol Yisrael Radio reports Friday. The soldier, now named for the first time as Yehoshua Haver, was estimated to have been about 19 years old when he died, served in the Fourth Battalion of the Armored Division and died in the Battle of Ramle. 

On 11 July 1948, an ambulance arrived at a Tel Aviv area hospital carrying an unknown body in an IDF uniform. The fallen soldier was buried in the Nahalat Yitzhak cemetery, while the Israeli army said at the time that the burial place was unknown.

Tivon was assigned several years ago to clarify where the soldier was buried, and launched an intensive investigation into the issue. Finally, over the past several weeks, Tivon's team successfully identified the soldier as Haver and tracked down his burial site. A DNA test confirmed Haver's identity. 

On Thursday, the IDF conducted Haver's official funeral and placed a headstone for the first time - some 66 years later - in the presence of the head of the Armored Division, Brigadier General Shmuel Alonsky.