Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar
Photo: Kobi Nahshoni

IDF ponders how to handle mass burial scenario

Home Front Command asks Chief Rabbinate whether to bury soldiers, civilians who might be killed in possible rocket attack in temporary graves or transfer bodies to cooling facilities

Home Front Command and IDF Rabbinate officials have asked Israel's Chief Rabbinate for instruction on how to act in the extreme scenario that hundreds or even thousands of soldiers and citizens should be killed all at once.


Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar were approached with this predicament after the IDF evaluated possible outcomes of a rocket attack on Israel causing a mass causality event.


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Now the Chief Rabbinate must reexamine this sensitive issue and decide whether to recommend transient burial or the transfer of the bodies to cooling facilities until the final burial in civilian cemeteries.


According to the halacha, taking the dead out of their graves is considered "desecration of the dead," however transferring the bodies to cooling facilities might be considered delaying the burial." Therefore this controversial issue has been brought forth before the chief rabbis, for their consideration.


Today any mass casualty event falls under the responsibility of the Interior Ministry. However if, for instance, Israel is attacked by rockets, killing hundreds or even thousands of civilians and soldiers – the IDF will also assist in evacuating and handling the bodies.


Israel National Planning and Construction Council approved a plan for temporary burial over six months ago, in the event that thousands might be killed. This plan was part of the State's preparations for a possible earthquake in Israel. The planning committee assigned eight designated zones from which to collect the bodies, where at least 3,000 people might be buried in.


An IDF spokesman explained that the issue of burying civilians is not within the army's jurisdiction. "This issue is being discussed as part of a broader approach taken by the IDF when it comes to preparing the civilian front for emergencies."


The Chief Rabbinate has confirmed they received the Home Front Command's appeal on the matter.


"These are sensitive issues which should not be discussed in the media. The rabbis are dealing with these issues seriously and with the proper caution," a Chief Rabbinate official stated.




פרסום ראשון: 12.12.11, 14:25
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