newsIsrael at War

Archaeologists help identify human remains from Oct. 7 massacre

Teams of archaeologists from the state-run Israel Antiquities Authority have so far identified 10 victims of Hamas's massacre in southern Israel.

Members of ZAKA walk through the destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kfar Aza near the border with Gaza, as they collect the dead bodies of Israelis on Oct. 15, 2023. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90.
Members of ZAKA walk through the destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kfar Aza near the border with Gaza, as they collect the dead bodies of Israelis on Oct. 15, 2023. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90.

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered the remains of at least 10 people burned to death by Hamas terrorists in their Oct. 7 assault on Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.

The archaeologists, who were enlisted to join the efforts to search the houses and cars incinerated in the massacre, employed techniques and knowledge acquired in archaeological excavations, according to the state-run agency.

Over the last two weeks, archaeologists have been combing and sieving the ashes from the burnt houses in which families from Kibbutz Be’eri, Kfar Aza and Nir Oz were murdered, as well as the contents of the cars from the music festival at Kibbutz Reim that was targeted by the terrorists.

“The archaeological methods employed at ancient sites are similar to the methods applied here,” the IAA said in a statement. “But it is one thing to expose 2,000-year-old destruction remains, and quite another thing—heart-rending and unfathomable—to carry out the present task of searching for evidence of our sisters and brothers in these communities.”

Some of the at least 1,400 victims of the Oct. 7 attack have already been buried, while other remains have been sent to Camp Shura, a military facility near Rehovot. The most difficult remains to identify are transferred to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv.

“Taking into account all the difficulty and the emotional challenges involved, our hope is that we can contribute to the certain identification for as many families as possible regarding the fate of their loved ones,” said IAA Director Eli Escusido.

The Oct. 7 assault was the worst one-day loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust. At least 5,000 people, mostly civilians, were wounded in the massacre, and more than 200 were taken back to the Gaza Strip as hostages by Hamas.

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