Over seven years after he vanished without a trace, a Daliat al-Carmel resident discovered the remains of missing Druse soldier Majdi Halabi two weeks ago in a forest near Usfiya, the IDF confirmed Thursday. Halabi went missing in May 2005.

IDF Manpower Directorate head Maj.-Gen. Orna Barbivai said that Halabi’s family had been notified.

She added that the body had been positively identified using DNA.

Police said they were continuing their investigation into the circumstances of his death.

The IDF has said it will continue to do everything in its power, joining arms with all security agencies, to return all missing soldiers to their families. The IDF and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz expressed their sincerest condolences to the Halabi family.

Halabi disappeared while traveling from his home to his base in Tirat Carmel south of Haifa.

He was last seen at a bus station in his hometown of Daliat al-Carmel, located on the slopes of the Mount Carmel and southeast of Haifa. He was formally declared missing in action on June 6, 2005. The funeral was set for Friday morning.

Daliat al-Carmel resident attorney Farah Halabi, a distant relative of Majdi Halabi and a former spokesman for the village and nearby Usfiya, said locals greeted the news on Thursday with mixed feelings.

“On the one hand it’s a very bitter feeling, that a son has been found dead.

On the other hand, there is some relief in knowing that you can put an end to the uncertainty the family has been going through the past seven years,” he said.

Halabi said that over the years any time a body was found in the North, Majdi’s parents would be contacted and wait with bated breath to find out if their son had been found – only to be told that the remains were not a match, and return to hoping that he would come home again alive and well.

Farah said he had spoken to Majdi’s mother earlier in the day and she told him how after Majdi’s brother Adham was killed in a car crash last October, she hoped “maybe now Majdi would come home and there would be some sort of relief for the family.”

Farah added that the Halabi family, which numbers in the thousands, “just takes one hit after another.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak called Nazmi Halabi, the soldier’s father, and expressed his condolences.

“We all, in the IDF and the security community, share the deep grief upon learning of the death of your son,” he said. “I sympathize with your pain and send a warm embrace to the entire family.”

Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich also sent her condolences to the family, saying: “Our hearts are with the Halabi family; after seven years of long agony, their hopes to find their son alive vanished.”

She added: “In these moments we must appreciate the dignity and determination of the Halabi family in their fight to try and locate their son.”

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger