Why Israeli Forensic Center is Finding it Difficult to Identify Victims of the Hamas Attack

    The National Center of Forensic Medicine and Its Current Struggles 

    The National Center of Forensic Medicine (NCFM) in Israel is currently dealing with the biggest challenge since its creation: identifying hundreds of bodies within the shortest time possible. The director of the institute, Dr. Chen Kugel, says what’s making the job difficult is that some bodies are completely mutilated.

    Kugel is a renowned doctor who has been working at NCFM for years. He has handled several cases, including children murdered by their parents and bodies from terror attacks and disasters like the Meron stampede and Carmel fire. Despite these horrifying cases, Kugel says he has never seen anything like what he’s currently dealing with.

    As he shared with the journalists the horrors he was witnessing at work, Kugel broke down and started crying. He said he looks at some of the bodies and fails to imagine what those individuals went through during their last moments. Kugel now wants Israel to put measures in place to ensure a deadly attack like that of Hamas does not happen again.

    As mentioned, the National Center of Forensic Medicine is at the moment racing with time to identify bodies of people murdered by Hamas terrorists as quickly as possible. And given the huge number of these bodies, Kugel and his team have had to transfer the identification work to Shura, a military facility for conducting forensic work.

    “Timeframe for Body Identification is Unrealistic,” Kugen Says

    Kugel admits that the timeframe the Israeli government has given his institute to identify the bodies isn’t realistic. But why is that? The NCFM director says the identification process has numerous stages. When the bodies come in, the institute’s team removes clothing, takes photos of the bodies, performs body and dental X-rays, and collects DNA samples.

    Kugel reveals that each body needs an hour to be processed. Therefore, it may take several days for his team to complete the identification process. As you can see in any Hamas video, many of the people were burned.

    According to the NCFM director, identifying the bodies of the murdered soldiers has been a straightforward process because their dental X-rays, DNA, and fingerprints are available in the Israel Defense Forces’ database. Moreover, most of the people killed while partying in Re’im were retired soldiers, so Kugel says their data is also on the Israeli army’s database, making it easy to compare.

    Determination by Process of Elimination

    Kugen discloses that over 190 bodies remain unidentified, most of which are completely burnt. He says his team is now using the remaining bones to identify the sex, age, and height of the murdered individuals. In this case, Kugen explains that if two people from the same location are reported missing, and one was known to be 1.6 meters tall and the other 1.5 meters tall, then forensic anthropologists will use the bones to determine which body parts belong to whom among the two.

    Meanwhile, Kugen is unsure if all bodies can be identified, arguing that NCFM does not even have the exact data for all missing people. Moreover, the director says there is a possibility that some of the bodies in Shura are of foreigners, who no one has informed the Israeli authority about them missing.