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Haredi rescue groups' bitter battle

Two organizations engaged in providing emergency medical attention across country take each other to court following painful split

Neta Sela
Published: 06.02.07, 10:48 / Israel Jewish Scene

The battle that has been raging between two haredi rescue organizations, Ichud Hatzalah (better known abroad as Israel Rescue and Hatzalah) and Hatzolah Israel, has possibly come to an end this week, after a rabbinical court ruled against the former group and accused it of fraudulent fundraising.

 

The two organizations provide initial emergency medical treatment until an ambulance arrives to the scene of accidents or terror attacks.

 

Hatzolah Israel, the haredi branch of Magen David Adom, was founded in 1991 by Rabbi Moshe Halbershtam, who passed away last year. The
organization has been run in recent years by chairman of the board, David Greenwald.

 

During the Second Lebanon War, many of the organization's volunteers in the north complained of severe lack of equipment needed for daily operations. This resulted in a crisis within the organization that led several of Hatzolah Israel heads, including Eli Beer, one of the organization's most prominent fundraisers, to resign from the group and establish a new organization, Ichud Hatzalah.

 

 

In response, Hatzolah Israel petitioned the rabbinical court in Jerusalem in a bid to prevent the establishment of the new organization, claiming that the resigning members took with them equipment that belonged to the mother group, including motorbikes, medical equipment and beepers.

 

Court orders operations frozen  

Ichud Israel in turn filed a petition demanding that Hatzolah Israel account for all funds that have been raised by the organization.

 

A legal battle ensued, during which the two organizations traded accusations of fraud.

 

This week, the Jerusalem rabbinical court finally ruled on the case, and found Ichud Hatzalah guilty of deceitful fundraising. The court forbade Ichud Hatzalah or Israel Rescue and Hatzalah in the US from engaging in any sort of activity, including fundraising, until further notice from the court.

 

The rabbinical judges slammed the organization for continuing to raise money by presenting material on their website that belongs to Hatzolah Israel, and ordered the group to give back equipment, documents and the list of donors taken from the mother organization.

 

Ichud Hatzalah said in response that it has never been a party in the court case. "The organization's directorate will continue to do its utmost to improve the wellbeing of its 750 volunteers, who are involved in saving lives throughout Israel with devotion and dedication."

 

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