For 40 years, the family of Tzion Tayib have been fighting for proof their son was killed in the Yom Kippur war and it is his body that is buried in the Har Herzl military cemetery, according to a report on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio).
Tayib’s position on the Hermon mountain was overrun in the first days of the Yom Kippur war by Syrian commandos, where Tayib served as a communications specialist, according to a detailed report on Walla.
From that position, a number of soldiers were declared missing, and 11 months later the IDF declared them dead.
According to the court papers released by the Supreme Court, the IDF claimed that they learned from captured Syrian soldiers the location of Tayib’s body, and they recovered it, confirmed his identity, and buried it.
The body of Tzion Tayib was buried without the family being present, and they were later informed that he had been buried.
The family, from the beginning claimed the IDF did not do enough to positively confirm the identify of Tayib, and it was lying to them. They felt there were discrepancies in the versions told to them.
The IDF said it had 100% confirmed that Tayib was dead and buried in his grave.
Twenty years ago, when DNA testing became reliable, the family asked that the body be exhumed to confirm that it was Tayib who was buried in the Har Herzl military cemetery, but the IDF refused.
Three months ago, the family turned to the Bagatz (Israel’s Supreme Court) for permission to exhume and test the body.
In February, the Supreme Court responded that the IDF’s presented sufficient proof that it was Tzion Tayib who was buried there, and did not grant permission to the family.
The family then decided to take action on their own.
On Friday, when the cemetery was busy with preparations for Memorial Day, the family entered the cemetery with two doctors, one of them a pathologist, as well as a tombstone maker. They carefully removed the tombstone and began digging.
They did not find the body of Tzion Tayib. They did not find any body at all in the grave.
They videoed all the evidence, and then restored the grave and tombstone so that no one visiting their lost ones during the day would be disturbed by the site of an open grave.
As can be expected, this has caused a major scandal in Israel.
During the Yom Kippur war, when many soldiers were killed in terrible battles, sometimes, such as in the case of burnt out tanks, there was very little, if anything left to bury. But in those cases, the IDF privately informed the families that they were burying an empty coffin, or were burying a tank unit together, whose parts weren’t individually identifiable.
In this case, the IDF fought the family for 40 years, claiming it did bury the Tzion Tayib’s body.
What happens next remains to be seen.
From the Ministry of Defense Yizkor site: