JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the founder and former director of the ZAKA organization, passed away Wednesday at the age of 63. Meshi Zahav’s condition had deteriorated over the last few days and the Herzog hospital where he was hospitalized reported Wednesday morning that he passed away.
In March 2021, Meshi Zahav was due to receive the Israel Prize for his work in ZAKA but an investigative report was aired claiming that he had abused many people over the course of many years. Meshi Zahav denied the allegations but resigned from ZAKA’s leadership and forfeited the Israel Prize. Police opened an investigation into the complaints.
On April 22, 2021, another investigative report was due to be released with witnesses testifying to Meshi Zahav’s actions. On the morning prior to the airing of the report, Meshi Zahav attempted suicide. His son found him in very serious condition and alerted emergency personnel. Meshi Zahav was rushed to the Shaarei Tzedek hospital in critical condition where doctors tried to save him, but he fell into a coma and was later transferred to the Herzog rehabilitative hospital, never regaining consciousness.
Meshi Zahav had defended himself against the allegations but warned that they were aimed at eliminating him. “Unfortunately this is part of the price I am paying for the way I chose,” he declared. “The publication of the article is an attempt to ‘settle accounts’ with me and to eliminate me. As long as I have strength I will continue to serve the people of Israel and the State of Israel as I have done all of my life.”