- Obtaining an official report of death of a U.S. Citizen
- Information on burial and on shipping the remains of U.S. citizen
Maximum Period before Burial
When the remains are embalmed: Embalming is not common practice in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza. Therefore, there is no local law requiring burial of an embalmed body within a specified period of time.
When the remains are not embalmed: Israeli law requires disposition of remains within 48 hours unless the remains are to be shipped outside the country. Under Israeli law, a body must be embalmed before it can be shipped outside the country. Palestinian law does not have a time specific requirement for disposition of remains in routine circumstances; however, it is recommended to inter the remains as soon as possible.
Embalming Services in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza
Embalming is performed by one of three offices in Israel:
- The Institute of Forensic Medicine
Director: Prof. Chen Kugel
67 Ben Zvi Blvd.
Abu Kabir, Tel Aviv/Jaffa, Israel
Tel: +972-3-512-7844/5; +972-3-512-7851/2
- Menucha Le’ad
Director: Mr. Shaike Kariv
24 Hasivim St.
Petach Tikva, Israel
Tel: + 972-3-687-2929
Mobile: + 972-50-777-8804
- Noam Embalming Services
Director: Mr. Gavriel Noam
23 Moshe Dayan St
Ramat Gan, Israel
- Ambulance Holon
Directors: Meir Mizrachi and Michael Haimov
1 Hazaron St.
Rishon Lezion, Israel
While the Institute of Forensic Medicine is a Government of Israel agency under the Ministry of Health, the latter two are private companies. By law, private companies must bring embalmed remains to the Institute for inspection and issuance of a non-infectious disease certificate.
While not legal under Jewish law, cremation is permissible under Israeli civil law. There are a couple of cremation facilities in Israel and no cremation facilities in the West Bank and Gaza:
- Aley Shalechet
1-800-333-188 (within Israel)
+972-73-275-5750 (from overseas)
- High Spirits
Contact: Avivit Sago
1-800-800-868 (within Israel)
+972-53-966-5200 (from overseas)
Caskets and Containers
When remains are to be transported back to the United States, containers meeting all U.S. and Israel shipping requirements can be obtained locally upon special order usually within 48 hours.
Caskets may be obtained by special order from:
- Yehezkel Gedalia
- Gavriel Noam
Exportation of Human Remains/Cremains/Ashes
Israeli requirements regarding exportation of remains are as follows:
- Death Certificate issued by the Ministry of Interior;
- Statement from the Embalmer;
- Transit permit stating there is no objection to the export of the remains from Israel; and
- Certificate of non-infectious disease.
The Ministry of Interior requires that the casket be prepared and sealed in accordance with Public Health (re-interment) Rules of the year 1941.
Ashes may be imported to the United States as long as they are accompanied by a Certificate of Cremation provided by the crematorium.
Costs: Local Burials
Jewish Burial: Since October 1, 1976, the Israeli National Insurance Organization covers the cost of the funeral for a person of the Jewish faith when the person is to be buried in Israel, regardless of citizenship. This includes the preparation of the body, burial ceremony and local burial plot. Other expenses such as transportation of the body from the place of death to the funeral home or cemetery may be applicable and are usually in the region of $500. If the family wishes to choose a particular plot, however, the family must pay all expenses. Private burial by the Jewish Burial Society (Hevra Kadisha), which includes a plot, gravesite preparation and funeral expenses, costs between $5,000-20,000, depending on plot location. Every city has its own Jewish Burial Society.
Muslim Burial: The Israeli National Insurance Organization covers the cost of the funeral for a person of the Muslim faith who made regular Israeli National Insurance contributions. The cost for a private burial to include the plot, gravesite preparation, shroud and offering for the Sheik attending the funeral, is based upon the age of the deceased: 0-1 year – no charge; 1-10 years – approximately $260; 10 years and older – approximately $1,200. The burial arrangements must be made by the family of the deceased individual. For further details, contact Haj Jawad Hamdan, Head of the Al- Nozha Jaffa Mosque, +972-50-655-7088.
Protestant Burial: The cost of plot, gravesite preparation, casket, funeral service and marker is approximately $1,500. Contact Father Ibrahim Azar of the Lutheran Redeemer Church at +972-2-627-6111 or +972-54-556-6947.
Roman Catholic Burial: Due to lack of space, burials plots are available to parish members only. The cost for a vault burial is $1,000. This includes the burial service but does not include the casket. Contact Father Zahar at +972-50-284-6442 or Father Rami at +972-2-626-6613 or +972-2-6266777 for further details. For a Catholic Polish Burial contact Father Gregory at +972-3-682-2680 for details.
Greek Orthodox Burial: Burial at a local cemetery, which includes the plot, gravesite preparation, casket, funeral services and marker, costs approximately $1,000. Due to lack of plots, only members of the community are eligible for burial. Contact Father Damaskinos at +972-3-682-3451 or Father Konstantine Nassar at +972-52-318-7618, or the Office of Community Council at +972-3-682-3304.
Costs: Shipment of Remains to the United States
Institute of Forensic Medicine = $850
Menucha Le’Ad = $1,500
Noam Embalming Services = $1,500
Transportation from other cities in Israel to the embalming establishment: about $500.00
Shipping Costs: The cost of shipment of remains from Israel to the United States is between $3,000-$5,000 (depending on weight of the remains and destination in the U.S.)
Exhumation of Remains
In accordance with Israeli health regulations, remains of persons of the Jewish faith may be disinterred a year from the date of burial. There is no law prohibiting disinterment of remains of persons of other faiths at any given time, provided that the Ministry of Health is in agreement. Exhumation must be performed in the presence of a representative of the Israeli Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Health, having given the necessary permission for exhumation of remains, must also obtain the consent of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel for exhumation of the remains of persons of the Jewish faith. For exhumation of the remains of persons of the Muslim faith, the consent of the Islamic High Council is needed, and for exhumation of persons of the Christian faith a Church consent is required. The Jewish Burial Society is responsible for exhumation of remains. Remains that are to be shipped out of Israel may require embalming, depending on the stage of decomposition.
Exhumation related charges are as follows:
- Ministry of Health (Certificate of Consent and presence of representative at exhumation): $250-$300
- Exhumation fee: $1,500-2,000
- Approximate freight charges to the United States: $1,500 – $2,000
Cause of Death and Autopsies
Cause of Death: The cause of death is not routinely stated on the Israeli or Palestinian Authority Death Certificates unless (1) the family has provided evidence and specifically requested the cause of death be added to the Certificate; (2) an autopsy has been performed/completed and an amended death certificate has been issued to include the cause of death; or (3) a notice of death indicating the cause of death has been presented to the Ministry and a request to include the cause of death has been made.
Autopsies: Autopsies in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza are generally not performed unless they are (1) required by the local police or another Government office, or (2) the family has specifically requested an autopsy be performed. If not requested by the local authorities, the family must pay the cost for the autopsy (approximately $850.00). The local police will normally order an autopsy in cases where foul play is suspected. Under circumstances where foul play is suspected and the police requires an autopsy, the family is not obliged to pay the cost of the autopsy; the local police, however, must obtain permission from the next of kin when ordering an autopsy. If the family refuses to provide its permission to perform an autopsy, the local police can request a court order permitting the autopsy to be performed without family consent.