The hints that uncovered tragic fates of soldiers after October 7

Rabbi Prof. Neria Gutel details how 2 soldiers' deaths determined, even though in one case only small bone fragments found and in the other, nothing initially discovered; later evidence emerged confirmed soldiers not alive

Following the deadly October 7 Hamas terrorist attack, determining fatalities and identifying bodies proved to be a challenge of a tall order. In a recently published article, Rabbi Prof. Neria Gutel discussed two cases where identification was made without the recovery of the deceased's body. In one instance, the determination of death was based on soldier testimonies and a Fire and Rescue Services investigation that concluded escape from a burning structure was impossible.
The first incident occurred on October 9, when an IDF vehicle was found in a combat zone, known to have been occupied by a soldier. Surveillance footage from police cameras in the area, as well as the vehicle’s own camera, confirmed the soldier's presence there on the morning of October 7. Concurrently, Rabbi Gutel noted, extensive documentation showed the presence of terrorists in the same area during those hours.
2 View gallery
רכבים שניזוקו באירועי ה 7.10, במגרש בנתיבות
רכבים שניזוקו באירועי ה 7.10, במגרש בנתיבות
Rescuers inspecting vehicle damaged on October 7
(Photo: Jack GUEZ / AFP)
Rabbi Gutel described in his article that the vehicle discovered was riddled with bullets and contained blood traces. "Near the vehicle, small bone fragments were found. The IDF assessed that the soldier was caught in a terrorist attack shot, and killed. The gunfire hit his head, among other areas. No body was recovered, and the IDF believes it was abducted and taken to Gaza. The soldier’s cell phone was tracked to the Jabaliya area," wrote Rabbi Prof. Gutel.
Rabbi Gutel, a reserve officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel serving in the Military Rabbinate who worked on identifying fallen soldiers and victims after the Hamas terrorist attack, noted that "DNA testing of the skull fragments and blood found at the scene confirmed they belonged to the soldier with a statistical probability of one in a billion.
Meanwhile, forensic doctors issued an opinion stating that such severe skull fragmentation is not survivable. Therefore, it was concluded that these findings unquestionably belonged to the soldier, and he is certainly no longer alive."
“This decision is final in every respect, including halachic implications,” wrote Rabbi Gutel. “It is worth noting that, with divine assistance, IDF soldiers in Gaza found a body during ground operations several weeks after the determination was made. The body was unequivocally identified as that of the ‘Unnamed,’ who had indeed been abducted. The case is now fully resolved.”
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משטרה שוטרים במשימת זיהוי גופות אזרחים מחנה שורה
משטרה שוטרים במשימת זיהוי גופות אזרחים מחנה שורה
(Photo: Israel Police)
The second case involved a soldier who fell at a military base. On October 7, hundreds of armed terrorists stormed the base. Many soldiers gathered in one building, which was then besieged by terrorists with heavy fire from light weapons, machine guns, shoulder missiles, grenades and bombs. When the terrorists could not penetrate the building, they set it on fire. A small group of soldiers managed to escape and testified to the intensity of the fire, which was significant and accompanied by heavy smoke and suffocation. The survivors stated there was no chance of escaping the fire for those who did not flee the burning building.
A Fire and Rescue Services report indicated that, under the described conditions, the victims lost consciousness from smoke inhalation before the flames reached them. Survivors reported hearing screams and cries from the building in the first few minutes, but these gradually faded. Regarding the soldier in question, Rabbi Gutel wrote that survivors confirmed he was with them in the building, describing his clothing and location.
In the searches conducted in the area after it was recaptured by the IDF, many bodies were found—some intact, some not—but there was no trace of that soldier.
Rabbi Prof. Neria Gutel Rabbi Prof. Neria Gutel 
"In light of all the aforementioned, it has been determined that although no remains of the body were found, it is clear that the soldier falls under the status of one who has perished in a ‘furnace of fire.’ He is no longer among the living, with all the halachic implications that entails," Rabbi Gutel wrote.
"It is also worth noting that in this case, too, there was significant divine assistance. After it was halachically established that the soldier was not among the living, based on the evidence, the IDF search teams did not relent. After many days of repeated searches, significant tissue was found," he wrote.
"The tissue was sent for forensic DNA testing (as well as other scientific tests) to determine to whom it belonged. After conducting four independent tests, the tissue was conclusively identified as belonging to the soldier. It was determined that this was a ‘tissue segment’ not removed by surgical action but due to traumatic injury. It was further concluded that ‘in the absence of immediate surgical intervention, it is impossible to stop the bleeding from this area, and death from this injury alone occurs within minutes, if not sooner.’ Therefore, forensic doctors established that this was an ‘organ vital for life’ and that ‘the person to whom this tissue belonged is no longer among the living.’”
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