Seven members of the police's victim identification unit left for India yesterday to assist in locating and identifying the bodies of two missing Israelis who may have been killed in one of last week's terror attacks in Mumbai.
Of the four Israelis that the Foreign Ministry's situation room listed as being out of contact yesterday morning, two reported in later yesterday. As for the other two, "we must search for them among the casualties of the various attacks," said Chief Superintendent Itzik Coronio, who is heading the delegation. "All of the bodies have been evacuated to a few central locations, and that is where we expect to focus our work."
The police team has prepared "identification kits" containing identifying details of each of the missing Israelis, obtained from their families and Israel Defense Forces records. These include fingerprints, dental records and DNA samples. However, Coronio stressed, there is no definite information placing the missing Israelis at the scene of any of the Mumbai attacks, nor have any of the slain been definitely identified as Israelis, aside from five victims of the attack on the city's Chabad House.
Three of the Chabad House victims remain unidentified, and it is possible that the police team will be asked to assist in their identification. However, the missing Israelis are currently considered more likely to have been at one of the Mumbai hotels targeted by the terrorists.
Coronio said the delegation would also offer its assistance to the Indian authorities in identifying non-Israeli victims, but so far, the Indians have not indicated any interest in such help.
The Israeli victims who have already been identified will apparently be buried only tomorrow, due a lengthy delay in the takeoff of the Israel Air Force jet sent to return the bodies to Israel. However, arrangements for their funerals are already underway.
The funeral processions of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, the Chabad rabbi in Mumbai, and his wife Rivka will leave from Kfar Chabad, located near Ben-Gurion Airport, and proceed to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where the two will be buried alongside their eldest son, who died of a serious illness two and a half years ago. Chabad rabbis and emissaries from around the world have been converging on Israel since Saturday night in order to attend the funeral.
Chabad has not yet appointed a permanent replacement for Holtzberg, though his place is being filled temporarily by the organization's emissary in Goa. The movement has also not yet decided whether to rebuild the Mumbai Chabad House, which was seriously damaged during the battle in which Indian forces recaptured it from the terrorists, or whether to simply rent a new building.
The Defense Ministry decided yesterday that the attack on Mumbai's Chabad House will be viewed as an enemy action against Israel. This decision entitles the families of the Chabad House victims to the same financial benefits granted to victims of terror attacks in Israel.
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