Russian forces search for the remains of two Israeli soldiers at Yarmouk Camp cemetery: report

Feb 07, 2021

Russian forces have reportedly begun searching for the remains of two more Israeli soldiers, missing since 1982, in a cemetery near the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus.

The two soldiers, identified as Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, have been missing since 1982 during the ‘Battle of Sultan Yaqoub’ in the First Lebanese War, along with another Israeli soldier, Zachary Baumel, whose remains were recovered and returned to Israel in 2019, according to a report by the Times of Israel newspaper.

The area where the search for the remains of the two soldiers is taking place has been classified as a closed military zone by Russian forces conducting the search, who will carry out DNA tests on any remains uncovered to verify whether or not they are those of the missing Israeli troops.

The ‘Battle of Sultan Yaqoub’ took place 39 years ago, when there were skirmishes between the Israeli army and the Syrian army in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, in which 21 Israeli soldiers were killed and 30 others injured.

The Shaam News Network (S.N.N.) reports that despite the belief that Feldman and Katz were killed during the battle, there were claims they had survived, with a number of reports stating that they had been captured by the Syrian forces during the fighting and sent to Damascus; these claims were strengthened in 2019 when Bommel's remains were recovered; these were returned to Israel, along with 10 other bodies of unidentified persons, after the Israeli intelligence service conducted a covert operation with Russian help.

Doctors at the Abu Kabir Institute for Forensic Medicine concluded that Feldman or Katz were not among the bodies recovered.

On April 4, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had handed over "Israel" the remains of the Israeli soldier, Zachary Baumel to Israel, after they were found by Russian special forces during what he called an outstanding operation in Syria.

The statements from the Assad regime's mouthpiece SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency) flatly contradicted the Kremlin’s narrative on the Israeli soldier’s remains; while Putin personally announced that the remains had been handed over to Israel following a Russian military operation to recover them, SANA cited an unidentified “media source” as asserting that the Syrian regime had no knowledge of the issue of Zachary Baumel’s body, claiming that the discovery of the body was further evidence confirming the cooperation of terrorist groups with the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad.

Photo of Yarmouk Cemetery and original news report (Arabic) from: S.N.N: