The Curious Case of the Missing Israeli Soldier

Monday, May 05, 2014 |  Israel Today Staff

Amidst coverage of Israel’s Memorial Day, the local press carried the curious story of an IDF soldier supposedly killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, but whose grave was last week found to be empty.

For decades, the family of Cpl. Tzion Tayeb have insisted that something wasn’t quite right about the official narrative regarding his fate in the aftermath of the war. But, with the Supreme Court repeatedly denying their request for an exhumation, there was little the family could do.

Fed up with the situation, the family last Friday took it upon themselves to open Tayeb’s grave at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Cemetery (pictured) with or without the court’s permission. Accompanied by several pathologists, the family dug to a depth of six feet, but found no body, confirming their worst fears.

When the dust settled after the frantic opening hours of the Yom Kippur War, Tayeb was listed along with numerous other soldiers on duty on the Golan Heights at the time as having been captured by invading Syrian forces.

When the Israeli captives were released following the war and Tayeb was not among them, the government changed its story, telling the family that his body had later been found in a mass grave beneath the snow on Mount Hermon.

But the family was skeptical, noting that it had never been provided any firm evidence that Tayeb’s body had been positively identified. And now, it appears there is no body at all.

There is growing speculation that Tayeb, and perhaps others, were taken captive during the war and never returned. If that were the case, Israel could have incentive to cover up the abductions. In the past, when soldiers have been taken captive by hostile elements, the nation has gone through a painful emotional process that typically ends with Israel trading hundreds of convicted terrorist killers for a single soldier, or even a corpse.

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