Forensic institute uses videos to determine whether hostages are still alive

Experts search for signs of life from kidnapped Israelis on recordings. In doing so, they become victims themselves.

By Michael Selutin | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
Graves in Kibbutz Be'eri. Many residents were also taken hostage. Photo Flash90
Graves in Kibbutz Be'eri. Many residents were also taken hostage. Photo Flash90

The Israeli Institute of Forensic Medicine has the sad task of using videos to determine whether or not abducted Israelis are still alive. The head of the institute, Dr. Chen Kugel, spoke to Kan News about the institute’s ability to determine the death of hostages – even if the body is in the Gaza Strip – and also spoke about the institute’s work during the war.

He described how they determine the deaths of hostages in Gaza: “You look at the videos and try to determine what injuries they have, whether or not those injuries are life-threatening, you try to detect breathing movements, eyelid movements as well signs that appear in people after death.”

He added that staff are also taking statements from hostages who have returned from the Gaza Strip. “It is difficult to meet the hostages, even if they are still alive, because you hear from them what happened,” he said.

Kugel’s team also examines bodies returned from captivity to identify signs of violence and injuries.

Hours of analyzing videos of abused people, examining mutilated corpses and recording statements from freed hostages all has a powerful effect on Dr. Kugel and his team.

Dr. Chen Kugel. Photo: Chaim GoldbergFlash90

Dr. Kugel describes how dealing with corpses and the harsh scenes affected him personally. “I have aged, I suddenly feel like years have passed.” He spoke about thoughts of retirement and concluded: “I’m a lot sadder, I joke less, how can I still laugh?”

Every day the Jewish people are confronted with new terrible news and it hits everyone right in the heart. Even experienced experts like Dr. Kugel, who deal with murder and manslaughter every day, are deeply impacted. Not to mention the survivors of the massacre, the Israelis who have fled from the north and south, the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who are currently fighting in the hell of Gaza, the relatives and, above all, the hostages who endure indescribable horrors every day.