“Sometimes you look at something and you think it belongs to one person and then you start separating it out and you realize that it is multiple people who were holding each other, close to each other, comforting each other through everything that was happening,” said Peer.
The next bag to be opened contained nothing but bone fragments, all bleached white, an indication that they were subjected to intense heat. The remains were from Nir Oz, where numerous houses were torched and a quarter of its 400 residents were dead or missing after Oct. 7.
No tissue was visible and no DNA was likely to remain in the whitened bones, making identification especially problematic. “The heat was so strong it became like a crematorium,” said Furman. “This is definitely for the anthropologists.”
Another bag brought in later contained even more charred remains. Furman studied the CT scan of the contents, which showed teeth, metal fragments and an unidentifiable piece of bone. Rotating the image on the monitor, she recognized it was a piece of skull with a portion of jaw attached.
Inside the blackened mass, there was a clean round bullet hole in the skull fragment. The tissue still appeared fresh enough to take a viable sample, and there were teeth that could be matched to dental records, making the chances of a positive identification even more likely.