The Israel Defense Forces on Friday announced it has identified the remains of two soldiers killed fighting Egyptian forces during the War of Independence, over 74 years after their deaths.
Yitzhak Rubinstein and Binyamin Aryeh Eisenberg, both members of the Palmach, were among the troops who defended Kibbutz Yad Mordechai from an Egyptian attack in May 1948, days after Israel declared independence.
The two, along with Palmach medic Livka Shefer, were captured by the Egyptians while Eisenberg was evacuated on a stretcher to a nearby kibbutz. It was unknown where they were taken and in 1952 they were recognized as fallen soldiers whose remains are missing.
According to the military, Shefer’s body was found in the village of Majdal (today Ashkelon) in 1949 and then moved to a mass grave in Kibbutz Nitzanim, where it was identified four years ago.
Citing an “intensive investigation” it conducted over the past decade, the IDF said it determined that the remains of Rubinstein and Eisenberg were similarly buried at Nitzanim, without further elaborating.
The military said their relatives were informed Friday morning of the development by Maj. Gen. Yaniv Assor, head of the IDF Personnel Directorate.
Now that their remains have been identified, the names of Eisenberg and Rubenstein will be added to the memorial at Nitzanim, as was Shefer’s. A ceremony is due to be held in the coming weeks.
“Every Hebrew mother should know that we will not give up until all the children of Israel are returned to their graves and we’ve revealed the burial places of those martyrs whose burial places are unknown,” Assor said in a statement. “Today, the State of Israel and the IDF have fulfilled its moral obligation in establishing the burial sites of Benjamin Aryeh Eisenberg and Yitzhak Rubenstein.”
Eisenberg, born in Poland, 1927, moved to Mandatory Palestine in 1946. Shortly after, he enlisted in the Palmach, the elite fighting unit of the pre-state Haganah militia. Rubinstein, who was born in Ukraine in 1913, joined the Palmach after arriving on a refugee boat in 1938.
The IDF said both were killed in battle on May 24, 1948.
Shefer, Rubinstein and Eisenberg have all been awarded ranks posthumously, as there was not yet an IDF to be part of when they were alive.
With few exceptions, the military continues to search for the bodies of soldiers whose burial places are unknkown, sometimes decades after their death.