Russia to return Israeli tank captured in First Lebanon War

Putin accepts Netanyahu’s request for tank ahead of his visit with Putin in two weeks time; Tank from last known location of three Israeli soldiers MIA for over 34 years

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to Prime Minister Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot’s request to return an IDF tank captured in during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub during the First Lebanon War in 1982.

The tank was one of two IDF tanks that were captured by the Syrian Army during a battle between the IDF and Syrian Army in the Bekaa Valley on June 11th. Both the tanks were transferred to Damascus, one of the tanks sent to Russia where it was placed in a Russian museum until now.

During the battle, three Israeli soldiers, Zechariah Baumel, Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz went missing, their families unable to provide a proper burial for over 34 years.

According to media reports, Prime Minister Netanyahu requested the tank be returned to Israel during his visit with Putin in April. Just two weeks ahead of his next visit with Putin, Netanyahu thanked Putin, stating on Saturday “I wish to thank the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, for responding to a request made by me and the IDF Chief of Staff to return the tank from the Battle of Sultan Yacoub to Israel… To the families of MIA’s Zechariah Baumel, Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, there has been nothing to remember the boys by and no grave to visit for 34 years now. The tank, which is the only evidence from that battle, will now be returned to Israel.”

A delegation from the IDF Ammunition Corps is currently in Moscow where they will meet with Russian officials to arrange the return. The families of the missing IDF soldiers, Zechariah Baumel, Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, were informed of the tanks return to Israel over the weekend.

Netanyahu and Putin’s meeting in two weeks time will center on Russian military coordination with Israel in Syria. Israel and Russia reached an agreement earlier this year on military coordination on Russian military actions in Syria.