Prime Minister Netanyahu heralds the Russian role in ensuring the return of Zachary Baumel’s remains as “another expression of the special connection between the Russian people and the Jewish people.”
What was billed as yet another summit meeting on coordinating Israeli and Russian policy in Syria turned into an even more dramatic setting as Russian President Vladimir Putin presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with items that belonged to the late Zachary Baumel, an IDF soldier who had been missing since 1982 during Israel’s war in Lebanon.
Baumel’s remains were finally returned to the Jewish State for burial on Thursday evening at a military cemetery in Jerusalem.
The talks between Putin and Netanyahu took place in Moscow. They are said to have, in fact, discussed the situation in Syria.
At a ceremony which took place later in the day at the Russian Defense Ministry, Sgt. First-Class Baumel’s jumpsuit and military boots were presented in an Israeli flag-draped casket.
The Israeli prime minister thanked the Russian defense establishment. “This exciting day and ceremony are another expression of the special connection between the Russian people and the Jewish people,” said Netanyahu.
“We never forget the enormous sacrifice of the Russian people and the Red Army to save humanity and save the Jewish people from the Nazi monster. Hundreds of thousands of Jews fought valiantly in the service of the Red Army and many of them we know in Israel are still bearing medals, and many others helped establish the Israel Defense Forces,” the prime minister declared.
“It is, therefore, heartwarming to see the partnership of values, respect for soldiers, brotherhood of soldiers, comraderie of soldiers, and the important principle that no one is left behind,” added the prime minister.
The ceremony was attended by Chief of Staff of the Russian Army Valery Gerasimov.
Netanyahu has stressed the close alliance with the Russian president in Israel’s effort to fend off Iranian entrenchment in Syria.
For Moscow, the role it played in returning the remains of the Israeli soldier served its agenda of promoting itself as a stabilizing force in the Syrian quagmire.