Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting that Russia has agreed to return to Israel a Magach (M48) tank that was one of two tanks captured in 1982 by Syria in Lebanon. Syria had given one of the captured tanks to the USSR where it eventually found its way to the tank museum at Kubinka. Since the capture of the tank in 1982, Israel has been seeking to discover the fate of 3 missing tank crewmen that were in one of the two missing tanks.
According to the Haaretz article:
Over the weekend, Israel was informed that Putin had consented to Netanyahu’s request and had signed a presidential order for the tank’s return. Netanyahu also informed the families of the three missing soldiers of the development.
The Prime Minister’s Office also announced that a delegation from the IDF ammunition corps is currently in the Russian capital meeting with Russian representatives to explore how the tank can be transferred to Israel as quickly as possible and to ascertain whether it is the three missing soldiers’ tank or the other captured tank.
“I thank Russian President Vladimir Putin, who responded to my request to return the tank from the Battle of Sultan Yacoub to Israel,” Netanyahu said in the statement. “The families of the missing, Zacharia Baumel, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, have not had a physical vestige of their sons or a grave to visit for the past 34 years. The tank is the only evidence of the battle and now it will return to Israel thanks to Russian President Putin’s consent to my request.”
In July of last year Tank and AFV New.com posted an article written by Jim Warford in 2007 about this particular tank (the article originally appeared in ARMOR magazine.) According to Warford, the Soviet government was very interested in this particular tank because it contained an unconfirmed quantity of the 105mm M111 “Hetz” APFSDS round, which was Israel’s most advanced anti-tank round at the time. This vehicle is also covered in Warford’s 2001 article for ARMOR titled “The Secret Museum at Kubinka.”