Body of IDF soldier Majdi Halabi, missing since 2005, found in Haifa forest
Earlier this year, reports claimed that Israel's Justice Ministry was planning to grant amnesty to two convicted prisoners in exchange for information about Halabi's burial place.
The remains of an Israel Defense Forces soldier missing since 2005 have been found, it was revealed on Thursday.
Majdi Halabi, 19, a resident of the Druze village of Daliat al-Carmel near Haifa, went missing while attempting to hitchhike to his base.
Halabi's remains, which were found in the Carmel Forest, were positively identified, and an announcement was passed on to his family.
The soldier was last seen at 5 P.M., May 25, 2005, in a bus station in his home village. He withdrew 50 NIS from an ATM, proceeding to buy a drink in a nearby restaurant. In addition, it is thought that he was wearing civilian clothing at the time of his disappearance. He was expected to arrive at an army base near Haifa, but never arrived.
The head of the IDF personnel directorate, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, brought the news to Halabi's family. "The IDF and the chief of staff extend their condolences to the family, and we will continue to offer them any support we can," she said as she was leaving their house.
She also said that he would be buried in a military funeral on Friday.
Earlier this year, reports claimed that Israel's Justice Ministry was planning to pardon two convicted prisoners, and offer financial reward to another, in exchange for information about Halabi's place of burial.
However, at the time, it was not clear whether the information promised by the prisoners was reliable or if the body in question was that of Halabi. It remians unclear whether this information led in any way to the discovery of Halabi's remains.
Netanyahu told Army Radio in April that he would leave no stone unturned in his attempts to "return our captives and missing [soldiers]."
"I wouldn’t say at any price, but if this missing [soldier's] location can be found through these means, then yes, I'll do it," the PM said about the prospective deal with the prisoners, adding that he had "no ability to determine whether the information we received is solid."
Netanyahu added that current estimates are "that there could be something here [to end] a tragedy that afflicts a missing [soldier] or his family, who aren't Jewish, and who are looking everywhere with no success."
"At the end of the day, decisions have to be made, "the premier continued, saying that "in the past I brought back Ilan Grapel, and that involved a price as well, and we're working toward [Jonathan] Pollard's release."
Netanyahu said that such efforts were "never ending, because that is our duty."
Majdi's borther, Adham Halabi, was killed in a traffic accident in Daliat al-Carmel last year.