Rabbi Neria Guttel Explains Procedure For Establishing Death Of Oct. 7th Victims Without Locating Body


JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In a scholarly article which appeared in the latest volume of the halachic compendium Techumin, Rabbi Prof. Neria Guttel, a reserve officer (Brig.General) who serves in the IDF’s body identification division, explained how in some cases the establishment of death was made without a body being found.

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In one case the ID was made after an IDF vehicle was located on Oct. 9th, and it was known and documented on camera that a soldier had been in it on Simchat Torah. Additionally it was known and documented that many terrorists had been around the car. “The bullet-riddled car contained blood traces” Rav Guttel wrote, “and near the car small pieces of bone were found. The IDF estimated based on the findings that the soldier had been shot and killed, with the bullets hitting his head among other places. The body was not found and the IDF estimated that it had been kidnapped to Gaza. Geolocation of the soldier’s cellphone led to the Jabalya neighborhood in Gaza.

“A DNA investigation of the blood and skull fragments found in the area showed that they belonged almost certainly to the soldier. Medical doctors submitted a legal opinion, stating that such a destruction of the skull would not allow life to continue. On the basis of these findings it was determined that he was not alive.”

Rav Guttel said that the decision was “totally binding with all the halachic ramifications” but added that “It should be mentioned that, with G-d’s help, at the beginning of the ground maneuver a few weeks after the decision, IDF soldiers located in Gaza a body which was identified as “X”, the soldier who had been abducted. Thus the process was properly completed.”

In another case, a soldier was present on an army base when hundreds of armed terrorists infiltrated, using gunfire, machine guns, shoulder-fired missiles, as well as grenades and other explosives. When the terrorists didn’t succeed in penetrating the central building, they set it on fire. A small group of soldiers who succeeded in escaping described the fire as large and significant and the smoke as suffocating. The survivors said that there was no way to survive the fire unless people had escaped the building

Fire and rescue workers explained that the soldiers would have lost consciousness from the smoke before the fire reached them. The survivors said they heard cries from inside until the cries faded away. They also testified about this particular soldier having been there in the burning building, describing the clothes he wore.

Several bodies were found afterwards, some intact and some not, but there was no sign of the body of this soldier.

Rabbi Guttel stressed that “based on the above evidence it was decided, even without any traces of the body that the soldier had the rule of one who had “entered an inferno.” He is not alive, with all the attendant halachic ramifications.

“In this case too there was special Siyata Deshmaya. After it was halachically determined that the soldier wasn’t alive, a search unit of the IDF didn’t give up and after many days of searching, significant tissue was found and taken to the DNA lab to identify who it belonged too. After four independent forensic tests, the tissue was identified as belonging to this soldier. The tissue was also identified as having ‘been removed due to a traumatic event’ which “without surgical treatment would not be able to prevent bleeding and death within minutes. Thus the doctors concluded that the tissue belonged to a ‘limb which controlled life’ and said that ‘the person it belonged to is not alive anymore.’ “

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mee hoo ze
mee hoo ze
9 days ago

Scary to have to use these sugyas for halacha limaaseh.