Archaeologists and forensic scientists are still trying to identify human remains in Israel’s border communities in the Gaza Strip

Israeli archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) are still in Israeli communities attacked by Hamas and Islamic Jihad men almost 50 days later. They are mainly trying to find human remains in the burned ruins.

The Army Department of the Home Front Command contacted the AAI to attempt to identify both human and animal remains and to assist relatives and friends who still do not know the whereabouts of their relatives, friends and pets. In particular, the bodies found in the kibbutzim of Be’eri, Kisufim, Nir Oz and Kfar Aza, as well as in the cars of those who fled the massacre at the Nova Electronic Music Festival in Re’eim, were charred and contributed to this It was extremely necessary to name them.

In the destroyed communities, many houses were burned down by the attackers. To do this, they used tires from the victims’ own vehicles, which they set on fire in the living rooms and bedrooms of the houses. The high temperatures make human remains unrecognizable to untrained people and, in many cases, unidentifiable.

However, archaeologists are closely dedicated to identifying human remains that have also suffered from wars, floods, various types of violence, or simply the relentless passage of time.

According to the findings

When archaeologists find human or animal remains, they send them to the Shura military base, where scientists extract DNA and compare it with the database containing the names of people still listed as missing. Archaeologists’ efforts led to the identification of at least ten missing victims, allowing them to be officially declared dead and buried.

Around 20 IAA archaeologists are involved in the work.

Later, doctors like the pediatrician Miriam Hermann They identify the bodies in some hospital centers. Herman volunteered to help name the graves of so many children, she explains. “But it is very difficult. Not just because of the conditions of the work itself, because you see so many corpses of children, from one year old, one month old, five years old, seven years old, twelve years old, everything…” he explains. “Some were so burned that you don’t know what that thing that looks like a piece of wood is. The way they arrived was cruel, bloody, burned, mutilated, little pieces of people.” That’s why identification tasks are so difficult, says the doctor, “and the more time passes, the more difficult they become.” But worst of all is to talk to the parents who are there waiting for news and tell them what we found and what we didn’t. “You don’t know which is worse,” he explains.

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Slow and necessary work

One victim identified more than five weeks after October 7 was the peace activist Vivian Silver, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri who last contacted his son while he was hiding from terrorists who had invaded his home. Silver was listed as missing and was believed to have been kidnapped and taken to Gaza. However, forensic experts told his family on November 13 that they had identified his remains.

Also Liel HetzroniThe 12-year-old girl was identified weeks after her disappearance. Liel, his twin brother Yanaihis grandfather Avia and his great aunt Ayala They were killed in Be’eri. Avia was killed in the family home, while Liel, Yanai and Ayala, along with twelve other people, were taken hostage in another family’s accommodation.

According to witnesses, this house was the scene of an hours-long battle between the Israeli army and the Islamist attackers and was burned down by them. Only two people from both families survived. Liel’s remains were identified by AAI archaeologists just days after his family decided to hold a farewell ceremony for him instead of a funeral because they needed to end so much suffering.

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