Sunday, October 10, 2004

Arutz Sheva: Egyptians Looted the Dead Bodies

Dr. Yehuda Hiss, acting director of Israel's National Forensic Institute in Abu Kabir, called upon Egypt to release each body as it is identified. "In mass-casualty incidents around the world," he said last night, "the general practice is that no bodies are released for burial until all are identified. In Israel we release each body as it is identified. I hope that my Egyptian colleagues will come towards us in this matter and will release the bodies that are identified, as this is the most humanitarian thing that can be done."

Based on the events of the past 60 hours, however, it is not certain that Egypt meets Israel's standards for proper respect for the dead - and for the living as well. Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, head of the Zaka volunteer organization that engages in collecting body parts after mass-casualty incidents of this nature, reports that the Egyptians are apparently more interested in looting than in rescuing the wounded and extricating the dead. Meshi-Zahav, who has been in Taba for the past two days, said last night that he saw Egyptians looting the hotel in Taba, and even the dead bodies, even before evacuation of the wounded had been completed - and certainly while people were trapped, dead or alive, under the rubble.

Many other Israelis on the scene confirmed these reports. They said that as they went through the rooms looking for survivors, they saw that drawers and closets had already been opened and stripped of their valuables, with the cheaper items left lying on the floor. Bodies emptied of their wallets and jewelry made the identification process even more difficult than it already was. A Channel Two television crew told of a female body that was brought for identification with a watch on her hand - and that by the end of the identification, the watch was no longer there.

Arab affairs expert Dr. Guy Bechor of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya explained to Arutz-7 today: "For us, human life is the most important value. It's obvious in everything, for instance in the fact that people crowded the border with Egypt this morning in a desperate effort to get in and help possibly save a life. First we save lives, then we ask questions. But for Egypt, it's different: more important than human life are the external issues: How will it look? Are we giving up on our sovereignty by allowing Israeli forces in to help? Will the other Arab nations accuse us of cooperating with Israel? Etc... It takes much time for the orders to filter down. In Egypt, things work in a pyramid, from top down, and not one stage can be skipped. So they finally let us come in - but after a day or a day and a half. We live in the Middle East; this is Taba, not Eilat, and we have to recognize the rules."