International

Israel-Hamas Conflict: A Grueling Task of Identifying the Fallen

Inside the Makeshift Morgue's Journey to Bring Closure Amidst the Devastation

The war between Israel and Hamas has left many dead and missing. Families still hope to find their loved ones and give them a proper burial. At a temporary morgue near a military base in Israel, a team of experts is working hard to identify the bodies.

The morgue is made of containers and tents. It is busy but silent out of respect for the dead. Doctors, forensic experts, and volunteers in protective suits work day and night shifts. They have seen horrific things that they will never forget.

“We are doing a holy mission here, identifying the last casualties and all the civilians that got killed,” said Dr Danielle, a volunteer dentist who could not reveal her full name due to military rules. She spoke to reporters who were allowed to visit the area by the Israeli military. “It is essential for us. We want to give them their final respect.”

Most of the victims are from the first terror attacks by Hamas militants in southern Israel on 7 October. They crossed the border and killed many people.

Two weeks later, about 100 to 200 people are still missing. The Israeli military said on 19 October that they were still finding bodies. Some places near the Gaza border were not safe to enter until now. More than 1,400 people have died in Israel since the war started, mainly in the first attacks. The Israeli military has also killed over 5,000 Palestinians in airstrikes on Gaza, according to the health ministry run by Hamas.

The identification process is slow and difficult, said Dr Danielle. Many bodies are badly damaged and mutilated.

“They gave us the mission to identify the casualties,” she said. “No doctor, no dentist was ready for what they saw. We saw shocking things, women who were raped brutally and then killed, people who were burned alive.”

Many victims did not have any ID on them when they died. This made it harder to identify them.

Several teams are working on each body in a big tent with bright lights to find out what happened to them.

They also try to match DNA with family samples, looking for their relatives. When they find a match, they release the bodies as soon as possible so the families can bury them according to Jewish tradition.

“In Jewish tradition, when a person dies, we read a prayer, the Kaddish, to lift their soul to its final rest,” said Colonel Haim Weisberg, head of the military’s rabbinic department. “In this incident, we will see people who cannot read Kaddish at all because none of their family members have survived this. We saw families, grandparents, parents, and grandchildren, all coming here in bags.”

Some families still do not know if their loved ones were killed or taken to Gaza by the militants. The Israel Defence Forces said on Monday that Hamas is holding 222 hostages.

The best they can do in this situation is to give clarity to the waiting families, said Dr Danielle. She added: “As a nation, we will never be the same again.”

The war between Israel and Hamas has been ongoing for over two weeks. It started with a surprise attack by Hamas on 7 October 1, when they launched thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel2. They also breached the border fence and infiltrated Israeli territory, killing civilians and soldiers and taking hostages.

Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on Gaza, targeting Hamas leaders and infrastructure6. It also mobilized its troops and reservists for a possible ground invasion. It imposed a total blockade on Gaza, preventing any aid or goods from entering or leaving.

The international community has been trying to broker a ceasefire between the two sides, but so far without success. The US has been supporting Israel’s right to self-defense, while China has sent warships near Israel in a show of support for Palestine. The UN has been calling for ending the violence and humanitarian access to Gaza.

The conflict has caused immense suffering and loss of life for Israelis and Palestinians. Over 10 Britons have been killed, and six are missing in the war. Thousands of Palestinians have been displaced from their homes in Gaza due to the bombings. Many Israelis have been living in fear of rocket attacks and kidnappings. Both sides have accused each other of war crimes and human rights violations.

The fate of the hostages remains uncertain, as Hamas has not released any information about them or their conditions. Israel has vowed to rescue them at any cost. The families of the missing are still waiting for news about their loved ones.

The war has also sparked protests and violence in other parts of the region, such as the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria. Many people have expressed solidarity with the Palestinians and condemned Israel’s actions. Some have also attacked Israeli embassies and Jewish communities. Israel has accused Iran and Hezbollah of supporting Hamas and supplying them with weapons.

The war has also raised questions about the future of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The two-state solution, which envisages a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel, seems more distant than ever. The prospects of dialogue and coexistence seem bleak, as both sides have hardened their positions and distrust each other more than ever.

The war has shown the fragility of the Middle East and the need for a lasting and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The world is watching and hoping for an end to the bloodshed and a return to peace.

Alok Verma

Alok Verma is an accomplished International Reporter at IndiaFocus with a deep-seated passion for global affairs and cross-border stories. With an impressive track record in international journalism, Alok is dedicated… More »

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