IDF to pay last respects to Leon Solomonovitch…finally!
Lack of clarity regarding number of bodies in mass grave of 1948 Israeli fatalities has been resolved.
By Roi Mandel
An error in documentation during the helter-skelter days of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War led a fallen Israeli soldier, who was buried in Tel Aviv, to be considered missing in action for the last 65 years.
Private Leon (Nello) Solomonovitch was killed in the battle for Isdud (Ashdod) in the course of the containment efforts by Egyptian forces. Next month a tombstone bearing his name will be unveiled, but there will be no close relatives to see him paid the last honor. Solomonovitch, born in 1921 in Galati, Romania, was a paramedic in the War of Independence. He was summoned to join the fighting forces for the battle against the Egyptians along the coast. It was tough going: the Givati and Negev Brigades failed in their attempts to stymie the progress of the Egyptians and retreated under heavy fire, which claimed the lives of 15 soldiers.
“One of the soldiers was evacuated from the area in critical condition and died in the hospital,” said Lt. – Gen. Gabi Almshali. “The report indicated 14 fatalities, plus the wounded soldier who died. Five soldiers were identified in the day after the battle and buried in Nitzanim, to be later transferred to a mass grave in the Nahalat Itzhak cemetery. There were nine bodies remaining. Somehow, the name of Leon Solomonovitch was absent from the report.”
The nine bodies were transported to a Tel Aviv cemetery where they were buried in a mass grave bearing all their names. Solomonovitch was pronounced missing, with no one knowing anything about his absence. No one looking for him either. His mother, who came to Israel as a tourist to visit her only child, returned to Romania. Her brother, who lived on Chen Boulevard in Tel Aviv, died years ago; his son and his wife left the country and returned to Romania.
Only recently, when IDF archivists specializing in MIA soldiers decided to look into the case, they came across documents indicating Solomonovitch was among those killed in the battle, and indicating he was buried in the mass grave in Nahalat Yitzhak. Another report from the era indicated the bodies were badly mutilated and in advanced stages of decompositon when burried, saying it was not entirely clear whether the remains belonged to nine or 10 soldiers.
Next month the Negev Brigade will add the name of Private Solomonovitch to the monument bearing the inscriptions of the names of fallen soldiers. “In lieu of relatives, we are his family,” says Almshali. “Unfortunately, there are investigations into missing persons’ cases that end in nothing. Now, from the time, we are able to understand what really went on out there, to see what the direct participants of the events could not possibly see.”
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4385103,00.html