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Only 12 of 45 victims officially identified, preventing burials before Shabbat

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Only 12 of the 45 bodies of people killed in the stampede at Mount Meron have been officially identified by next of kin more than 15 hours after the disaster, the Health Ministry says.

This delay is being fiercely opposed by the families of victims, who want to bury the bodies as quickly as possible in accordance with Jewish tradition.

The head of Israel’s Legal Medicine Institute, which is tasked with identifying the bodies, says the delay comes from the fact that it is “a complicated and sensitive process.

“The institute’s workers and teams are working determinedly and sensitively to complete the identification process,” says Dr. Chen Kugel.

The Health Ministry says the process involves finding the fingerprints, dental records and DNA tests of suspected victims and checking those against the body.

“We must work responsibly in order to prevent — heaven forbid — dire mistakes. Our hearts are with the families on this difficult day,” Kugel says.

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