The Israeli military is working with ornithologist Ohad Hatzof to use birds of prey to search for victims of the October 7 attack by the Palestinian Hamas movement. Hatzof is a member of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. He is dedicated to tracking the migratory routes of birds using GPS, the BBC reported.
The army asked him to help find the bodies at the end of October. Thanks to his data tracking the behavior of the sea eagle, he was able to find four dead ones. He confirmed that another bird helped pick out other places.
Hatzof used GPS to track the sea eagle’s movements and mark the places where it landed. He then shared the information with the Israeli armed forces. Its food can be, among other things, corpses. If it lands, it is possible that it is precisely because of the body of a dead person. It is then a signal for the army to check the place where the eagle stopped.
He told BBC journalists that he was very grateful to be able to help in the search for the victims. And partly to relieve families who have no idea what fate befell their loved ones. “Living in uncertainty and not knowing the fate of your loved ones is the worst thing in the world,” Hatzof said of his motivation for helping the military with the search.
He himself lives in such uncertainty. After the Hamas attack, his friend disappeared with his 12-year-old child, who lived in Kibbutz Nir Oz near Gaza. He wants to go looking for his friend directly in the field and hopes that he will find him soon.
He also hopes that the war will end soon. The conflict also affected his work. Many of his colleagues had to join the army and directly participate in the fighting. He is also one of the few who still does his regular job in the office. “I’m glad to be able to use my knowledge of bird movement and behavior to help a good cause,” he added.
Using birds and working with an ornithologist to find corpses is not the only unusual way the military has resorted to. Reuters reported a few days ago that the army has established cooperation with archaeologists who help identify bodies in burned buildings and cars.
Archaeologists are searching Kibbutz Be’eri, Kfar Aza and Nir Oz, or the site of a music festival. They were able to identify 10 victims. Another 25 are still missing. “We are looking for little things in burnt buildings that have survived the heat, and thanks to which we would be able to identify the bodies.
According to one of the archaeologists, Joe Uziel, their work in the kibbutz is not easy. They often deal with the internal dilemma of whether it is better to find the remains or not. “When you identify someone, it means that someone has unfortunately died. If you don’t find anything, that means there’s a family somewhere who doesn’t know the fate of their loved one,” Uziel said. Despite the arduousness of their work, he admitted that he is “filled with the feeling that he can help someone cope with the death of a loved one.”