Forensic institute: 'We only received the bodies at noon'

'If we had received the bodies at 8am, we could have finished identifying them all before Shabbat,' Dr. Kugel, head of Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, says.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

The Abu Kabir Forensic Institute
The Abu Kabir Forensic Institute
Flash 90

Dr. Chen Kugel, head of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute and Dr. Nurit Bublil, who heads the Institute's DNA lab, responded to the criticism regarding how long it took to identify the bodies of the 45 people who died in the Meron disaster.

In an interview with Kan News, they said: "The deaths occurred at around 2:00 in the morning. If the bodies had been brought at eight in the morning, we would have finished identifying all of them before Shabbat. But they arrived after 12:00 in the afternoon, so there wasn't enough time to identify them all."

Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, begins Friday at sundown and continues until after nightfall on Saturday night. In addition to it being the State of Israel's official day of rest, Jewish law also forbids the handling of dead bodies on Shabbat. Thus, some of the bodies were identified on Friday afternoon, while others were only identified on Saturday night.

Dr. Kugel added: "I think that there is a misunderstanding of the process. I can understand that the families in mourning are in the midst of a very severe crisis, but they really do not know what goes on here. Their environment is also pressuring them to do things that are simply impossible to do."

"It makes the work much more difficult when all sorts of people are calling and pressuring you to finish quickly, when we want to do the work properly."

Regarding the mistake in which a different body was sent to Yedidya Chayut's funeral, Dr. Kugel said: "We are just a few hours after the event. I do not know if there was a mistake in identification, in records, or in the transfer to ambulances. I need to check where the mistake occurred and who is responsible for it - was it us? Was it other bodies? We will investigate."

"The total number of staff dealing with this incident numbers one hundred people, but that's not a large enough number for an incident like this.

"The Institute is not large enough to be able to handle an event like this. Our facilities are very small relative to the country's needs. The Institute was founded in 1955 and has not grown since then. The population has grown a lot since then. We did the best we could."