Search teams uncovered biological remains, clothing and shoes during the Israel Defense Force’s operation to locate Guy Hever, a soldier missing for almost 20 years, according to a Channel 1 news report, though it won’t be known if those findings indeed belonging to the vanished serviceman until after testing.
On August 17, 1997, Hever, then a 20-year-old sergeant in the IDF Artillery Corps, left his post in the Golan Heights, wearing a uniform and armed with a Galil assault rifle, and hasn’t been heard from since.
On Sunday, the army announced it would renew “focused searches” for Hever, sending teams to the Golan Heights and northern Jordan Valley from Monday to Wednesday.
At the end of the operation, Brig. Gen. (res.) Tzvika Fogel, now the head of the police’s Golan Heights search teams, told Channel 1 news that “more than a few remains were found.”
According to the public television report, those findings included biological material, pieces of uniforms and the soles of shoes. They were sent to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Jaffa for investigation and testing to determine if they belonged to Hever.
“I am not an expert in this. I assume we’ll know the result in the days, weeks too come,” Fogel said.
The IDF would not confirm that new evidence has been located, but a spokesperson said the results of the three-day search “required additional checks before we’ll be able to confirm anything.”
Similar findings have been located in previous years’ searches, though they have not been a match for the missing Artillery Corps soldier.
Thus far, no trace of Hever has been found, and the case remains shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories.
The military initially resisted declaring Hever missing, though he now bears that official designation.
In the immediate wake of his disappearance, the army assumed that he’d simply gone AWOL, noting that Hever was slated to face a minor disciplinary hearing for missing a unit social event, the latest in a string of infractions, including a 21-day remand to base.
A woman living near Hever’s base — Camp Ra’am, or Thunder — outside the Golan Heights city of Katzrin said she saw someone matching his description on the day he went missing walking in the direction of Syria.
In the 19 years since Hever disappeared, a number of theories have been floated as to his whereabouts.
Some surmise that the 20-year-old was kidnapped and spirited into Syria, where he is still being held today.
“Over the years, a large number of efforts have been put into locating the soldier, which continue until today, in terms of investigations, searches and intelligence work,” the army said Sunday.
In 2015, the IDF sent divers to check the reservoirs near where he went missing.
The year before, the army set fire to minefields in the area to see if they would offer up some clue as to what happened to Hever.
In 2005, a German national living in Israel was arrested in Syria, and claimed to have met a thin, dark-skinned man with perfect Hebrew during her interrogation. After seeing Hever’s pictures two years later, she wrote a letter to his mother, Rina Hever.
“I met your son, missing soldier Guy Hever, during an interrogation on May 3, 2005, around 22:00 o’clock at night in Damascus, Syria, with 90 percent certainty,” she wrote to the soldier’s mother. “Of course I cannot say 100 percent because his name was not mentioned.”
In February 2007, a previously unknown and possibly fictional organization, the Resistance Committees for the Liberation of the Golan Heights, released a statement saying it would free an Israeli soldier captured on the Golan Heights — seemingly a reference to Hever — in return for Golan Druze imprisoned in Israel. Nothing came of the statement, and it remains unclear if the Resistance Committees even exist.
“This is harder than grief. It’s something that is not resolved,” his mother, Rina Hever, told The Times of Israel in 2012. “I have not the shadow of a doubt that he’s alive.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.