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Remains of Israelis killed in Yom Kippur War found

JERUSALEM, Dec. 7 (JTA) — The bodies of two Israeli soldiers missing since the 1973 Yom Kippur War have been found in the Sinai Desert in Egypt.

At a news conference Monday, the head of an Israeli army search team that had been working in Egypt announced that the bodies of Cpl. Leon Cohen and Cpl. Nadiv Mordechai had been found Nov. 12 near the site of where their tank was hit on Oct. 7, 1973, the second day of the war.

Previous efforts to locate the bodies immediately after the war and in subsequent years failed, said reserve Lt. Col. Haim Rubinstein.

The fact that the Egyptians had removed the tank from the site following the war made locating the remains difficult, he added.

He also said photographs taken shortly after the battle revealed two mounds of earth near the tank.

In later photographs, the mounds were covered by piles of earth from an Egyptian tractor digging defense trenches.

But re-examination of aerial photographs taken of the area shortly after the tank was hit and careful scouring of the zone by Israeli and Egyptian teams led to the bodies, said Rubinstein.

Several days after the remains were found, they were sent to Israel.

Forensic specialists then conducted DNA testing on the remains to confirm the identities before informing the two families.

Israeli President Ezer Weizman, who maintains good relations with his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, had been behind the effort to locate the bodies, repeatedly pressing for coordination with Egyptian authorities.

After the bodies were returned to the Jewish state, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak issued a statement saying, “Twenty-six years after the battles, we are bringing the dead to a grave in Israel.”

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