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Israeli hostages fell to commandos' bullets?

December 02, 2008 04:13 IST
Last Updated: December 02, 2008 04:56 IST

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Close on the heels of controversy arising out of Israel's criticism of Indian forces' handling of the hostage crisis during terror attacks, the head of an Israeli rescue and recovery team in Mumbai has alleged that the Indian commandos may have inadvertently killed one or more hostages at Nariman House, a media report in Jerusalem said.

'Based on what I saw, (although) I can't identify the type of bullets in the bodies (of the victims), I don't think the terrorists killed all the hostages, to put it gently,' Haim Weingarten, head of the six-member team of ZAKA, voluntary organisation dealing with rescue and recovery, told The Jerusalem Post.

Speaking on phone from Mumbai, Weingarten told the Post that all the six Jewish and Israeli hostages found dead in the Chabad House were killed by either gunshot wounds or shrapnel from grenade blasts, or both, and that he didn't know who threw or fired the grenades that wounded the hostages.

Although lacking forensic tools to determine the time of death, Weingarten said that his team's observations led him to believe that 'some of the hostages were killed on Wednesday (when gunmen first entered the building), some on Thursday, and some on Friday morning (during the start of the commando raid),' the report said.

ZAKA officials believe that in a final act of love, the director of the Chabad House, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, wrapped the body of his wife Rivka in a tallit (prayer shawl) before succumbing to his own wounds during the final hours of the siege, it said.

The volunteers on the scene found the bodies of Israeli grandmother Yocheved Orpaz (62) and Jewish Mexican national Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich (50) bound to one another with a phone cord.

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