59 years after the battle of Tel Arish (in what is now Holon), Meir Peled is still waiting for information to help him identify his brother, Yehiel Rosenfeld, who fell during the clash.
On the night of April 27, 1948, Givati's 52nd Division fought to take the area, as part of an operation to liberate Jaffa during the War of Independence.
"At two in the morning, there was a counter-attack by the Arabs. Over 15 soldiers were killed, and many bodies lay strewn on the ground," Meir said in an interview with Ynetnews.
A week after the clash, British police retrieved six bodies from the scene of the battle. "I was called to come in and recognize my brother," Meir recalled. "There was nothing for me to recognize. The bodies were headless, beheaded with a knife."
Two of the bodies were claimed by families, while four remained unidentified, including that of Yehiel. They were buried anonymously at the Nahalat Yitzhak military cemetery, "among them my brother,"
He received no further news for 40 years, until DNA testing became dominant in the realm of forensic science. "In 1998, the Ministry of Defense decided to investigate the battle of Tel Arish," Meir recounted, adding that the decision marked the start of a long legal and bureaucratic process to determine whether DNA samples could be retrieved from bodies of fallen soldiers in order to identify them.
Eventually, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered the graves to be opened, and samples were taken in December of 2006. They were sent to the US for analysis, and since then Meir has still not heard a thing.
"This has gone on and on," Meir said, describing his agonizing frustration. "They took the samples four months ago, and today, there is still no answer," he added.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement that "lab tests have not yet been completed. Families will be updated when results are received."