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Zilbershlag Photo: Ronen Boidak
Zilbershlag Photo: Ronen Boidak
 
 

Plan: Zaka activists to help IDF during war

IDF, rescue organization in talks over possible cooperation in time of war; initiative will see thousands of volunteers, yeshiva students recruited to help civilian population in emergency situations

Neta Sela
Published: 08.01.07, 19:49 / Israel Jewish Scene

The Zaka search and rescue organization is in negotiations with the IDF on the possibility of calling up Zaka volunteers for service in emergency situations, including war, Army Radio reported Wednesday.

 

According to the report, the group's directors Dudi Zilbershlag and Yehuda Meshi Zahav have been in talks with the Home Front Command
in recent weeks and have formulated a plan that would see thousands of Zaka volunteers operating under the army's command in a time of war.

 

Meshi Zahav and Zilbershlag were angered by the initiative's publication Wednesday, before its details had been finalized. "We agreed with the Home Front Command to keep the matter under wraps until we receive the rabbis' approval," Zilbershlag explained.

 

IDF officials said that as part of the lessons of the Second Lebanon War, and due to concerns that during the next war Home Front Command soldiers would be too busy with rescue operations to attend to civilians, it has been agreed to try and recruit Zaka volunteers and yeshiva students to aid civilians in such events.

 

In such a case, the volunteers would not be required to wear uniform.

 

Both the IDF and Zaka stressed that the idea was still in its initial stages, and that no agreement had yet been reached.

 

Early publication may harm initiative  

During last summer's war, Zaka, along with 62 other non-governmental organizations took part in providing support and aid for Israel's north. Following the war, Zilbershlag, along with Maj.-Gen. (res) Doron Almog and attorney Uri Meser approached the Home Front Command and presented a plan formulated by the Joint Distribution Committee to set up an official emergency service that could replace the improvised one in the future.

 

Zilbershlag told Ynet that Zaka's rabbinical committee had already gave its permission for the move. "In cases of emergency and risk to life there is already an understanding regarding the need for maximum cooperation that could save lives. However, the haredi public is very sensitive about this kind of cooperation, for fear it would be presented as another step toward enlisting haredim to the IDF."

 

Zilbershlag said that the army's "irresponsible" release of the plan before the spiritual leaders of the haredi public had given their support for the move could cause it to fall through.

 

Efrat Weiss contributed to the report

 

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